How to write a winning elevator pitch

Naomi Brooker

SUADA founder Naomi Brooker. Source: Supplied.

You’re at a networking event and the conversation turns to what you do for a living. You mention you have your own business. But then the time comes to explain what it is. The pressure’s on, especially now that attention spans are shorter than ever before.

In no time at all, you’ll need to convince people to believe in (and ideally, invest in) your organisation. It’s no easy feat.

Here are a few tips, as well as a foolproof pitch structure, to get you started.

A few basics first. Your elevator pitch should last no more than 20-30 seconds and it must be easy to understand. Use plain English. Pretend you’re describing your business to a 10-year-old. No matter how complex your business is or how clever you might be, there is no benefit to overcomplicating your brand story.

When it comes to structure, an impactful elevator pitch should incorporate three things:

  1. What you do (so people understand);
  2. What your impact is (the proof, so people believe in what you do); and
  3. What your aspirations are (so people care about your future as an organisation).

What you do

This sounds easy. But when you’re put on the spot, it can be a tricky thing to simplify, especially when you want people to know how unique and interesting your business is.

Instead, focus on the pure interaction between you and your customers. Sentences should start with something like:

  • ‘We are … a social networking site for senior leaders.’
  • ‘We develop… software for 3D modelling.’
  • ‘We make … wedding dresses using only sustainable fabrics.’

Whatever it is, make it simple and punchy.

What your impact is

This can vary greatly depending on how long your business has been operational and how immediate your success has been. If you’ve been around for a while or you’ve experienced quick success, pick one or two points that best illustrate your impact to date. This could be your rate of expansion, the number of sales, big-name clients, or level of investment.

If you’re a new business or success has been slow, your impact might be a little harder to define. But don’t despair. Instead, consider anticipated impact such as forecasts based on current sales, or reference tangible, achievable goals for your business in the next six to 12 months.

What your aspirations are

This is your opportunity to be bold and tempt even the most pessimistic listener. Just make sure you’re clear, concise and distinctive.

Striving to become the global leader in your industry is unlikely to turn any heads. Instead, consider what is unique to your business.

  • Do you want every home and office in Australia to have a 3D printer?
  • Do you want to end the use of disposable coffee cups?

Whatever it is, your aspirations should be just beyond what is realistic. That’s what makes them interesting.   

It can be easy to overcomplicate your elevator pitch, but with a simple structure and a little preparation, you’ll be getting people on board in no time.  

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