Imagine you see an important business executive walk by.
They happen to be getting onto an elevator ahead of you.
You’re definitely going to go talk to them, right?
It’s a great opportunity to let them know about all of the amazing things you could do for them—if they chose to work with you or use your services.
You’ll really need to impress this person.
It’s only a 30-second ride and you know you won’t get this chance again.
You want to sell yourself or your skills, and you want to be memorable.
But you have no clue what to say, or how to say it, without making a fool of yourself.
Furthermore, you may not feel completely confident in your English abilities.
In other words, you need an “Elevator Pitch” prepared for moments like these. (Or you need to be prepared to make one up quickly.)
Here’s where I’ll teach you how to deliver the perfect Elevator Pitch in English.
What Exactly Is an Elevator Pitch?
An Elevator Pitch doesn’t always take place in an elevator. It can happen anywhere—at a bar, at a cafe, on the streets, at a networking event, at a festival, on the phone. At its simplest, an Elevator Pitch is a short and effective sales pitch.
During an Elevator Pitch, you introduce yourself to a prospective (possible) client, investor or industry person.
You also let that person know what you’re capable of and why it might help them to work with you in some way.
The right Elevator Pitch will make you visible and memorable, lead you to the right contacts and give your job or business a tremendous boost.
But, of course, coming up with the right words can be really difficult. How do you summarize all your achievements, credentials, skill set and future plans into a few sentences? How do you persuade a stranger to believe in you and what you do? How do you create that right first impression to ensure that there’s at least one follow-up meeting?
Read on, as I guide you through all the steps in detail.
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The Essentials of an Elevator Pitch
Before we begin, let’s look at the different points that make up an Elevator Pitch. An Elevator Pitch is a special form of sales pitch designed to be used in specific circumstances for a specific goal. So here are some important points to remember.
Ideally, your elevator pitch should be short enough to take place during an elevator ride, which is roughly 30-60 seconds. You want to make an impression as quickly as possible, and you don’t want to bore the person, who is likely to be busy and preoccupied with several things.
Of course, if it’s a networking event or if you sense that the person has some time, you can stretch to 3-5 minutes, but you have to use your judgment. If the person is in a hurry, keep it brief. If the person is really interested and even asks questions, you know you can go on for a little longer.
The 3 Basic Components of an Elevator Pitch
Your pitch must contain these three things:
- a USP (Unique Selling Point)
- a clear goal
- a call to action (an instruction/suggestion for what the person you’re pitching should do next)
Even if you don’t have a pitch planned out ahead of time, you can make one up as long as it contains these three points. It should highlight what’s so unique about you and your business, what exactly you want to or can accomplish and how exactly the listener can help or be involved.
Final Checklist: Who, What, Why, When and How
While the three components above will help you put together a pitch quickly, you’ll also want to make sure it ultimately answers these questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do? (Or what can you do?)
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- When and how can you proceed?
Body Language and Appearance
Make sure that you’re making eye contact, your shoulders aren’t too stiff and your speech is clear and polite. Also make sure that your clothes are neat and clean before you approach someone for a pitch.
Try to show that you genuinely believe in whatever you’re saying. Be flexible and open to further conversation and suggestions—remaining diplomatic is key.
You can get more great advice on how to craft an elevator pitch from “The Elevator Pitch” and “How to Perfect the Elevator Pitch” on FluentU. FluentU gives you the double benefit of hundreds of real-world business-related videos on helpful topics like these along with unique learning tools like interactive captions—so you can actually improve your English while learning about the business world at the same time.
How to Deliver the Perfect Elevator Pitch in Business English
Right, so first I’m going to ask you to imagine Person A. Let’s give him a name: Arjun. He graduated from college with an MBA, worked for a few years for some firms and now he has his own start-up. It’s a digital marketing agency and consultancy firm that handles everything from SEO to website design and promotions. He works with a team of PR officers, graphic designers, copywriters, SEO experts and coders.
Now, Arjun wants to give his business a boost and attract some high-profile clients. But how will he do that? Which skills and qualities should he try to capitalize on?
Let’s say Arjun bumps into Person B at a networking event. B’s name is Alex and he’s the CEO of an indie games company that has some great titles but not much visibility. Arjun can easily help him with that, but why would Alex trust Arjun of all people?
1. Begin with a Hook
There are many ways Arjun can make an impression. He can focus on his educational background or on his different skills or on some of his professional achievements.
No matter what he brings up first, he wants to be sure to catch Alex’s interest.
So let’s say he starts with something direct like this:
“Hey, I’m Arjun and my start-up specializes in digital marketing solutions. I help get people’s names and businesses on the first page of Google.”
The last phrase says exactly what Arjun does and is sure to get Alex interested.
2. Decide the Objective of the Pitch
Arjun has guessed right that Alex’s business needs more traffic, and once he has his attention, he can expand upon other matters. His objective is to get Alex to be interested in the marketing services he has to offer. The rest of the pitch will be based on that goal.
3. Explain What You’ll Do and Why It Matters
Arjun has, of course, made a big claim. How exactly will he convince Alex that he’s the best person for the job?
Now that he has Alex’s attention, he can add:
“I’ve been following your company lately and I absolutely loved the titles that you brought out last year. My team can ensure that those games reach a greater audience within a few weeks. We can help with rebranding the website, fine-tune the SEO and create compelling social media profiles to attract more gamers and give a sales boost.”
Depending on Alex’s response, he can also add:
“After I got my MBA from Harvard, I spent three years working with an advertising firm where we helped different companies and start-ups rebrand themselves and grow their audience. My start-up, which is only a year old, has already been recognized and applauded by leading business websites.”
4. Focus On Providing Something No One Else Can
So far so good. Arjun has told Alex how he can help him, and why he’s particularly suited to help him. But why should Alex hire him specifically when there are so many other marketing firms out there?
Here, Arjun can deliver his USP:
“And the best part is, we offer a one-week trial pack for all our clients. So for free, you get to see all the amazing things we can do to boost your business. And if you like it, we can move on from there, and if you don’t, you still get to keep the things we did, all for free.”
Now, Alex is intrigued. He really needs that business boost and Arjun is offering something different. Instead of asking Alex to trust him, he’s trusting Alex to take him at his word and sign up for something, with no hidden costs attached, just to see if it works. Alex now has no reason to refuse.
5. Anticipate Questions
Chances are, Alex might ask a few questions. He might want to know how the free trial works and what the benefits covered in the seven days are.
Arjun can answer those questions as they come up, but he’s played his cards right with what he’s said so far. He hasn’t given too much information, but just enough to ensure that Alex remains interested in the conversation.
6. End with a Call to Action
To end his pitch, Arjun hands Alex his business card and says:
“Here are my contact details. If you need anything or you know anyone else who does, even just a consultation, let me know and I’d be happy to help out in any way possible.”
Now Alex can thank him and promise to be in touch, or he may be interested enough to ask more about the start-up and the services it offers. Maybe they’ll even negotiate a deal on the spot. The phrase “or you know anyone else who does” is important because it tells Alex that Arjun is on the lookout for similar clients and Alex should feel free to recommend him to anyone he knows.
Arjun’s pitch tells us who he is and what he does. It tells us why he’s the best person to help out Alex and how he can do it. Finally, giving Alex the business card shows Arjun is committed and is ready to take on a new client, pronto (right away). In short, his pitch is perfect and complete.
Chances are that you won’t get it right on your first try. You might mess up or the person might not understand. Or worse, the person might just walk away without a response. But don’t let that get you down.
Practice your Elevator Pitch repeatedly in front of the mirror until you’re confident.
Try it on your friends or coworkers you trust. Ask for their feedback.
After the first few attempts you’ll get the hang of it, and then you’ll be on a roll.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, artist, educator and a self-taught Italian speaker. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing inquiries.
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