How to Develop a Concise, Compelling, Innovative Elevator Pitch Presentation

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

For your innovative elevator pitch presentation, you can begin with your name and describe the benefit your product, service, or company brings to its customers — this is called the value proposition. Think creatively.

For example, if you’re a baker, rather than say “I make cakes for people,” say “I sweeten people’s lives.” If your company is designing jet-propelled rockets, rather than “We design rockets” say “We send people to the moon.” Use an opening phrase that surprises, or even shocks, the listener.

Your elevator pitch should induce your listener to invite you to “Tell me more” not shut you down with a “So what.”

Follow up with a bit about who your customers are and specify what you do for them. For example, for the baker who wants a corporate catering contract, after “I sweeten people’s lives” add “by delivering scrumptious birthday cakes to corporate clients.”

At this point, if your time is almost up, you can say, “Let me give you my card. I have a special promotion for first-time events.”

You can also add a few details from the other questions you answered before getting to your call to action, such as, “My bakery’s right downtown, near Union Square.”

Location is appropriate for the baker because a company might like to know the caterer won’t be held up in traffic. For another business, location may not matter, so you can talk about the number of clients that use your product or service.

Your elevator pitch changes based on the amount of time you have — the ride from the ground to the fourth floor is shorter than that to the thirtieth floor — and you have to quickly adjust your message to fit the few seconds you have. For example, with less time, say 15 seconds, you answer only the What, Who, and Why questions something like this:

“Hi, I’m Sara and my company, Redwood Music, helps people concentrate while doing tasks that require focus. On our website, people listen to music specially written to calm the part of the brain that normally distracts the part that’s working. Would a service like that help your customers?”

With more time, you can add a little more information:

“Hi, I’m Sara. My company, Redwood Music, helps people concentrate while doing tasks. On our website, you can listen to music specially written to calm the part of the brain that normally distracts the part that’s working. Writers and programmers make up a good portion of our listeners. I’m looking for parallel companies that want to reach that audience. Here’s my card if you want to consider advertising with us.”

Depending on who’s standing in front of you, not to mention your position and personal style, you might want to use a different style of delivery. For example, you can tell a story like this:

“You know when you’re trying to write a press release but you write two words and then check Facebook, write another two words and then get up to get a cup of coffee, change the first two words you wrote and then check your e-mail? (Listener nods and grimaces, identifying with the story.) my company, Redwood Music, helps people focus on the task at hand.”

At which point, the listener might say, “Really? How? Tell me more,” and you give more details, perhaps telling the story of how the composers and neurologists work together or highlighting how the music taps into a specific part of the brain.

You can also use a question to begin your elevator pitch. Try a rhetorical question and go directly into the answer or ask a genuine question to get an idea of the level of information that would benefit the listener. Consider something like this:

“Are you easily distracted while working on a task that requires focus? Who isn’t, right? Redwood Music, where I’m the ad sales manager, puts music online that helps you concentrate.”

The listener says something like “No way, how’s that work? Where can I sign up?” and you have your invitation to tell her more about your company and job and make your request as appropriate.

Make your elevator pitch about the listener and her problem (or the type and problem of client you seek). Every word you speak should be about what concerns the potential client — even though it’s about you.