What is an Elevator Pitch?

Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as an elevator speech, the elevator pitch is a brief summary of an idea that provides the listener with enough relevant facts to maintain an interest in the subject matter and wish to know more. The term comes from the idea of only using somewhere between twenty to sixty seconds to make this condensed presentation, roughly equivalent to the amount of time it takes to move between a few floors on an elevator. Elevator pitches have become a common tool in marketing and sales efforts, as well as an excellent public relations tool.

Elevator pitches get their name from the notion of how long it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator.
Elevator pitches get their name from the notion of how long it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator.

The secret to a successful elevator pitch is to boil down the presentation to the bare essentials while still using verbiage that is easily grasped by the audience. Because of the short amount of time, it is necessary for the individual employing the technique to omit any type of embellishment or additional ideas of concepts that are in support of the focal point of the presentation. When done properly, this elevator explanation directly answers the main query of the listener while leaving the door open for additional inquiry.

Many different people make use of this quick and simple overview style of presentation to make their point in a short period of time. Salespeople can make use of an elevator pitch to provide just enough information to pique the interest of potential clients and secure an appointment where the data provided during the pitch can be explored in more detail. Entrepreneurs who are seeking joint venture partners utilize the elevator pitch to summarize their basic proposal and gain attention from viable business associates. Even religious clerics and others can employ the elevator pitch to briefly present the focus and mission of the faith while including some small bit of information that is likely to motivate listeners to ask more questions.

The beauty of the elevator pitch is that there is no need to ride on elevators in order to employ the technique. Pitches of this type work very well in such settings as airport terminals, chance encounters at conventions and conferences, and even casual conversation at a cocktail party. Of course, the elevator pitch also works very well when riding an elevator a few floors with someone who wants to know more about a given subject or idea. As a means of providing just enough information to entice without overloading listeners with a great deal of data to assimilate, the elevator pitch is a powerful communication tool.

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