When introducing yourself, your business, or a new project, you have a limited amount of time to make an impression. You need to find the best words to describe what you do, and you need to do it quickly.
This is where a compelling elevator pitch comes in—a quick, 30-second pitch that immediately grabs somebody’s attention. Finding the right words and also holding the attention of your audience can, however, be tricky.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn more about an elevator pitch and how to write your own—plus, you can snag one of our three templates to help you get started.
Table of Contents
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short summary of yourself or your business. It can also be used to introduce a new project idea to your team.
Essentially, you want to create a quick pitch that offers an immediate understanding of what you or your business does, who it helps, and why it matters.
You can use an elevator pitch to:
- Spark interest from potential investors
- Pitch an idea to a potential co-founder
- Sell directly to consumers at events
- Guide your copywriting and personal brand
- Explain what you do at professional networking events, job interviews, or career fairs
- Share a new project idea with your team or higher-ups in the organization
How long should an elevator pitch be?
An elevator pitch should be around 30 seconds long, or 75 words. It got its name from the idea that an elevator pitch shouldn’t take longer than a ride in an elevator.
You can always take more time after your pitch to dive deeper if the people you’re speaking to are interested, but an elevator pitch itself should be a surface-level introduction. It’s meant to keep attention for 30 seconds—then the person or people you’re speaking to can decide if they want to learn more.
How to write an elevator pitch in 8 steps
A job seeker, a salesperson, and a business owner will each have different goals in mind when it comes to delivering an elevator pitch—but the basic ingredients of an effective pitch are similar.
Use the following guidelines to craft the perfect elevator pitch.
1. Grab attention with your intro
Your elevator pitch will likely be in a place where many people are competing for your listener’s attention. Whether interviewing for a job, speaking with investors, or pitching your business at an event, there will be a lot of competition.
It’s a good idea to start your pitch with an attention-grabbing statement. An effective hook should be flexible and dependant on how well your audience knows you, if they do at all.
According to Monroe’s Principles of Speech, a time-tested guide for persuasive public speaking by psychologist and Purdue University professor Alan H. Monroe, this can be done through sharing humor, compelling statistics, or astonishing information.
For example, you might start with a known statistic about a pain point your product solves, or crack a joke about how annoying something might be without your product. Or, you can start your introduction with your company name in the hopes that it sticks in your listener’s brain.
“Lead with the name of your brand,” says Cindy Gallop, advertising executive and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn. “This may sound ridiculous, but you’d be amazed at how often I’ve been pitched someone’s startup where they tell me what it does, but spectacularly fail to tell me what it’s called. You need a brand name that’s compelling, memorable, and intriguing in itself. ‘MakeLoveNotPorn’ always lands straight away. ”
It’s easy to sound robotic with your introduction, so try to personalize your approach for the listener and their existing knowledge in order to hook them from the get-go.
2. Start with who you are
Once you’ve made a splash with your hook, it’s time to reel the listener in by explaining who you are and why you’re making this pitch. For example, you might say something like, “I founded XYZ Zippers” or “I’m a salesperson with ABC Cosmetics.”
Leading with your name and your position immediately lets your audience know who you are, how you’re affiliated with the company, and what’s likely to come next.
3. Write about what you do and how you do it
The last part of your introduction needs to share what you do, why you do it, and how. In other words, share your company’s mission. This should immediately follow up your personal introduction.
For example, you might say, “I’m Sarah, the founder of Formula One, a company dedicated to creating and providing the best formula for babies, regardless of their food sensitivities.”
Your hook, who you are, and what you do should take up the first one or two sentences of your pitch. By the end, your audience should know:
- Who you are (i.e., your position at the company, your work experience, or your background, etc.)
- Your brand, business model, and/or company mission
- Your product or service category, and what you’re selling
4. Identify your target market
The next step is to demonstrate product-market fit—in other words, you need to illustrate who your target customer is and the opportunity you’re tapping into.
“Follow up with one quick, simple, straightforward soundbite that sums up what your brand does,” says Cindy. “In the case of MakeLoveNotPorn, I use our tagline to say, ‘We’re pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.’ Immediately, without knowing exactly what we are and how we do that, my audience understands our purpose and why we exist.”
Identify the need for your product. The goal here is to make the listener open to your ideas. Prove that there’s demand for what you’re doing by considering:
- The pain points you’re solving (like ergonomic chairs)
- The passions you’re letting people express (like shirts for dog lovers)
- The gap you’re filling and opportunity you’re creating (like game-changing tech)
- The amount of time/money you’re helping people save (like an app that helps you save when buying groceries)
You can illustrate these needs with facts, testimonials, and statistics.
The listener is more likely to hear your idea when presented with a clear picture of how it solves a problem. Once you establish the need, show how your solution will work based on real-life examples.
5. Mention your goals
What is the goal of your elevator speech? To land a job with a company? To generate investment in your business? To make a sale? Simply to grow your network?
Whatever it is you’re hoping to achieve with your elevator speech, make sure to mention it. This might look something like:
- “My goal is to secure a role as a content marketing manager with a SaaS company.”
- “At Genesis, our goal is to help tech companies improve employee productivity by 25% or more.”
- “We’re hoping to generate a capital investment so we can begin work on creating our next collection.”
By including why you’re pitching yourself or your company to your audience, your call to action at the end will be a lot more compelling.
6. Embrace the competition
Instead of glossing over your competition, acknowledge it—especially if you’re pitching to someone who knows your industry or market. Drawing attention to the competition gives you an excuse to explicitly differentiate your business from others.
Embracing the competition is a great way to incorporate why your business is better, right inside of your 30-second elevator pitch.
However, you don’t necessarily need to call out a specific competitor. You can simply mention an existing alternative, even if it’s just the status quo or “the way things are done now.”
Ask yourself why your solution is unique. What’s the competitive advantage, and why is it superior?
This helps you start a conversation with a one-up position over the competition. Be sure to avoid buzzwords, and include key points about what makes you the best solution.
7. Include a call to action
What good is generating interest if you’re not converting that momentum into some kind of action? End your elevator pitches with a strong, contextual call to action based on who your audience is.
“Sum up what you are and what you do in a couple of sentences,” Cindy says. “But the important thing here is, you don’t have to inform your audience of absolutely everything about your brand and business. You want to tell them just enough so they really want to find out more, and want to book that meeting or call where you can go into more detail, or are prepared to make time immediately to talk in more detail. But what you do want to make sure you land within that elevator pitch is how your business makes money.”
Next steps can include:
- Handing someone your business card in case they want to learn more—try Shopify’s business card maker to create your cards for free.
- Recommending a product or sending a sample for them to check out.
- Asking someone to connect with you on LinkedIn or by email to discuss working together.
- Suggesting that the person pass your information along to their own circles.
8. Practice your elevator pitch (and record yourself)
Once you’ve written out your pitch, practice it. Practice in the mirror, in your building elevator, with your team and friends. It’s the only way to get better at delivering a smooth elevator pitch.
Better yet, record yourself. Pull up the audio recording app on your phone so you can track the length of your pitch in real time and easily listen back to it to make sure it makes sense.
Speak with enthusiasm and excitement. Pay attention to the listener’s reactions and body language as you pitch. Collect feedback from people. If a few parts in your pitch sound “off” or unconvincing, go back and fix your pitch accordingly.
Writing an elevator pitch: 3 examples (and free templates)
Templates offer a good starting point, but you want to make it your own as much as you can. As always, practice makes perfect, and the more feedback you get over time, the more you can improve your pitch.
But to start, here are three basic templates, with hypothetical examples, that will help you touch upon your major talking points in a natural way.
1. The all-purposes elevator pitch
Your generic elevator pitch, this format provides you with a clear and intuitive way to cover all your talking points, letting you easily add and cut out parts depending on your audience.
My name is [YOUR NAME], founder of [YOUR COMPANY]. We offer [PRODUCT/SERVICE] for [TARGET MARKET] to [VALUE PROPOSITION].
Unlike [THE COMPETITION], we [KEY DIFFERENTIATOR]. And we recently [RECENT MILESTONE].
[CALL TO ACTION].
My name is Braveen Kumar, a marketer at Shopify. We offer a platform that enables both the early entrepreneur and the large enterprise to build and run their own stores.
Unlike most marketplaces where you can sell your products, Shopify lets you build and brand your own online store with the tools to sell across a variety of channels, manage inventory, start small, and scale fast.
Today, over one million entrepreneurs use Shopify to power their businesses.
If you’ve got a product to sell, visit Shopify.com to start your three-day free trial.
2. The Pixar pitch
This pitch is aptly named because it invokes the traditional storytelling structure—something Pixar excels at.
Stories are all about transformation and empathy, and if you can explain the journey your customer takes from point A to point B, you can get your audience to step into your customers’ shoes, even if they’re outside your target market.
Try this approach if your product solves a relatable pain point for your customers.
Once upon a time [INTRODUCE CHARACTER AND CONTEXT].
Every day, [ESTABLISH THE WAY THINGS WERE].
One day, [INTRODUCE PROBLEM/INCITING INCIDENT].
Because of that, [CHALLENGE].
Because of that, [SEARCH FOR SOLUTION].
Until finally [FINDS SOLUTION].
Now, [ESTABLISH THE WAY THINGS ARE BETTER NOW].
Once upon a time, there was a full-time blogger named Andy.
Every day, you could find him happily typing away on a computer, rushing to meet his clients’ deadlines.
One day, he started experiencing chronic joint pain in his fingers and wrists, a consequence of the years he’d spent typing for hours on end.
Because of that, he couldn’t write as comfortably or as fast, and it was affecting his ability to deliver to his clients.
Because of that, he needed a better way to support his wrists to continue making his livelihood, but he could only find temporary fixes.
Finally, he came across Type-Aid, a therapeutic glove that supports his wrists and combats the joint pain in his fingers due to extended typing.
Now, Andy can resume his work with confidence, doing what he loves, distracted less by the pain in his hands and focused more on working magic for his clients.
3. The sales pitch
Sometimes you find yourself speaking directly with a potential customer. In this case, you know that focusing on them and their needs is the best way to position your product.
Opening with a rhetorical question lets you establish how qualified they are as a prospect from the start, potentially tease more information from them by actively listening, and personalize your approach according to how they identify with the pain point for which you’re proposing a solution.
Have you ever [SITUATION AUDIENCE CAN RELATE TO]?
[COMPANY NAME] offers [PRODUCT] for [TARGET MARKET] such as yourself to [BENEFIT].
Unlike [KNOWN ALTERNATIVE/COMPETITION], [YOUR PRODUCT] is [KEY DIFFERENTIATOR].
[CALL TO ACTION].
Have you ever found yourself up at night reading and starting to nod off, only to realize you still need to get up and out of bed just to turn your lights off?
BrightLight offers more control for the smart homeowner, such as yourself, to turn on and off all the lights in their home from any device with our app installed.
Unlike other smart lightbulbs, BrightLight is designed to consume 30% less energy, saving you money in the long run.
You can buy them now in our online store.
7 tips to write an elevator pitch in 2023
The above templates above shouldn’t be used as rigid structures—a pitch, above all, needs to be persuasive and compelling. It should entice your listeners to want to learn more.
The following communication strategies can help you spice up your pitch.
1. Use social proof
If you’re associated with any big brands, have celebrity customers or investors, have influencer endorsements, or can weave social proof into what you say, you can really raise some eyebrows.
Why? Robert Cialdini, Regents’ professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, and author of bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, defined social proof as people doing what they observe others doing.
People are more likely to engage with what is already popular. Think of it as safety in numbers.
Social proof is used in advertising all the time. Say you’re someone with three young kids who struggles to get them into the car without slamming doors. You see an ad with a happy family driving around in a minivan with automated doors and extra protection features. You may feel compelled to experience the same.
People want to belong and command the respect of others. It results in people copying what’s already popular. If you propose that your ideas are already accepted, the listener is more likely to engage with it.
Ways to incorporate social proof into your elevator speech include:
- Sharing how many clients you’ve worked with
- Stating a couple of big brand client names
- Naming brands who recommend your business
Remember that your elevator pitch is only 30 seconds long. You don’t have time to reel off an entire testimonial, but name-dropping some big brands can go a long way.
2. Include concrete numbers
The appearance of authority aids more convincing arguments for your ideas. If you can provide hard numbers and appear to believe in your product, so will your listener.
Hard numbers appeal to any logic. How many units have you sold or how much funding have you secured? What’s your customer acquisition rate? Significant numbers add an extra layer of credibility to your pitch.
3. Use analogies to explain your product
In Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath discuss how some of the most memorable pitches are grounded in analogies. A lot of movies get made simply because the pitch successfully anchors the premise to one that’s already well-known.
For example, the writers of the movie Alien first pitched it as “Jaws in space” and had little trouble generating interest in the film. From those three words, you can understand that it’s a horror movie, involving an unseen threat that leaves death in its wake, set in space.
Try developing an analogy to use something familiar to explain the unfamiliar and complex, or embrace an obvious comparison to focus more on differentiation instead of basic features.
Common analogies for businesses include things like “Uber for boats” or “Netflix for books.” Think how you can get a potential customer or investor to understand what you do in just a few words.
4. Sell with stories
Stories are a naturally persuasive vehicle: they grab attention, demonstrate change, and evoke empathy. Neurobiologists have shown that stories can act as a conduit for understanding pain points that make them a valuable asset in the business world.
A general rule in storytelling: The bigger the gap you can create between the beginning and the end, the more impactful your story will be. So don’t be afraid to start off unremarkably normal or even when your character is at rock bottom.
It’s all the better if you yourself are the main character in the story—you’ve got a personal stake in solving the pain point.
5. Write for the ears
Alliteration, rhyme, rhythm—there are a ton of ways to wield words so they roll off the tongue. And when most memorable expressions stick because they’re pleasing to the ear, you’ve got a good reason to put some art into your articulation.
Give your pitch a unique style with a certain charisma that’s hard to imitate, even amongst your direct competitors.
6. Consider video elevator pitches
A modern spin on the traditional elevator pitch, video pitches give you a chance to speak directly to a listener and inspire them. They basically pack your elevator pitch into an online presentation.
Following the same principles as pitching in person, you have a bit more leeway in length with a video pitch. You’ll want to keep it between 30 and 60 seconds long. Show your passion and excitement quickly and provide numbers that prove you’re the best solution for an audience’s problem.
7. Prepare good conversation-starters
Conversation-starters help you increase the number of people you’re able to deliver your elevator pitch to. By coming to the event or interview ready to network and start conversations with a wide range of people, you’re able to increase potential interest in what you have to say or what you’re selling.
These don’t have to be complex. They simply just have to start up a conversation. Consider starters like:
- Have you been to one of these events before?
- Which speaker or seminar have you enjoyed most so far?
- How long have you been with your current company?
- What do you do?
- What brought you to this event?
Basic questions about the event are perfect conversation starters. Or, if you know of the person, you can mention that their background has impressed you, or you like what they’ve done in their work, etc.
Come prepared to start plenty of conversations. Switch up your icebreaker so your conversations don’t feel too forced or redundant. And be prepared to deliver your elevator pitch, catered to what each person does and if you think your company could help them.
How to write an elevator pitch: Key takeaways
Learning how to write an elevator pitch for your business, a project, or a job interview doesn’t have to be daunting. Follow along with our eight-step guide and get started with one of the three free templates we’ve provided.
- Start strong with a compelling hook.
- Share who you are and what you do.
- Use analogies, stories, or concrete numbers.
- Practice your pitch.
Ready to create your business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
How to write an elevator pitch FAQ
How do you start an elevator pitch?
For example, you might start by sharing concrete statistics about your company’s success rate. Or you might start by honing in on a pain point that your product or service solves.
What are some examples of elevator pitches?
Here’s an example of an elevator pitch using our “all-purpose pitch” template:
My name is Shannon, sales rep at Mayjune. We offer a comprehensive project management software to help large teams work better together.
Unlike other project management tools, we enable teams to fully customize project dashboards based on their specific needs. And we recently hit half a million users.
Let me know if I can share more about how your company could take advantage of Mayjune.
Do’s and don’ts of an elevator pitch?
A few do’s and don’ts of writing an elevator pitch include:
- DO practice, prepare, and rehearse your elevator pitch.
- DON’T ramble on about yourself without making your case.
- DO know the target audience of your pitch.
- DON’T avoid acknowledging your competition.
- DO end with a compelling call to action.
- DON’T forget to follow up with those you’ve spoken to.