Make short, sharp, and on-the-spot presentations by modeling your presentations after these elevator pitch examples.
I’ve scoured the business management internet space to bring you the best, most-impressive elevator pitches. In the following paragraphs, I’ll show you how to model your communications on these winning archetypes. (Spoiler alert: some of these examples show what not to do, so read closely.)
What is an elevator pitch?
Think of your elevator pitch (or elevator speech) as a Twitter version of your business plan/proposal. You may use more than 140 characters to communicate your ideas during a 30-second elevator ride; however, don’t share more than three tweets’ worth of information in “first contact” situations.
Because the average English word has 4.5 characters (5.5 with spaces), a 140 character tweet equals roughly 25 words.
Most people speak 120-200 words per minute; use a comprehensible 75 words (slightly slower than the average speaking speed) in your 30-second elevator pitch.
Speaking slowly (while still showing your passion for the subject) demonstrates confidence and competence.
Don’t just wing it and stumble your way through a rambling, improvised elevator speech the next time you get a chance to speak with an industry influencer.
Create and practice your elevator pitches right away–you never know when you’ll run into that next big opportunity.
Business networking means always having a business card in your hand and a smile on your face.
Give the same care and attention to the way you describe yourself (and your company) as you do to your professional attire, branding, and product design.
You can use an elevator pitch for everything from getting a job/promotion to landing a new client or investor. You’ll find these short, refined introduction speeches in all areas of business communication.
Staying ahead of the competition and managing industry rivalry means always presenting yourself in the best possible light. Later in this article, I’ll provide elevator speech examples for each of the popular variants. However, let’s use a basic elevator pitch template to get started.
Use a simple elevator speech template
You can find many outline variants and elevator pitch examples online; I’ll describe my favorites in this article. However, to keep things simple, I’ll start with a simple method used by the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology:
- State the Problem
- Present Your Solution
- Explain Why People Should Trust You
- Describe Your Value Proposition
- Offer a CTA (Call to Action)
In the following fill-in-the-blank template, I use one sentence per point to clarify the structure of this system. Feel free to break this rule and create a natural-sounding elevator pitch. As you practice your speech out loud, keep tweaking your phrasing to sound personable and precise. Just remember to maintain a maximum of 75 words!
A simple Harvard-MIT elevator pitch
- Problem: “[Customer Type] are often frustrated by the effort it takes to [Action].”
- Solution: “[Your New Solution] eliminates the need to [Customer’s Old Solution].”
- Why You: “For [Duration], [Customer Type] have trusted [Your Company] to provide the best solutions in [Customer’s Industry].”
- Value: “With [Your New Solution], you can [spend less/make more] [time/money] [Action].”
- CTA: “I’ll give you a call to learn more about your situation (Get Contact Info). Thanks for your time.”
Elevator pitch example #1: Nice and simple
“Ranchers are often frustrated by the effort it takes to hand-shear their angora alpacas. DroneClip eliminates the need to chase, restrain, and trim these beautiful beasts. For over 5 years, alpaca farmers have trusted DroneClip to provide the best solutions in alpaca ranching. With our safe and reliable drone aircraft, you can spend less time shearing and manage a larger herd. I’ll give you a call to learn more about your situation. Thanks for your time.”
Use a comprehensive speech outline
When making an elevator pitch (or any other presentation, for that matter) you may want to follow a programmatic speech format like this one from UC Davis:
- Smile and make a “hooking” statement to capture your audience’s attention.
- Introduce yourself (and your company).
- Explain what you do and why you love it.
- You and your company
- Describe the contributions you’ve made, including the problems you’ve solved.
- Give a short, striking example of your value.
- Explain your interest in your listener(s).
- Describe your product/service/solution.
- List the ways people benefit from working with you (instead of your competitors).
- Provide a brief story about a satisfied customer.
- Call to Action
- Ask for an appropriate response to this interaction (contact info, a referral, an appointment, etc.)
Even when working with this model, remember to keep it brief. A 75-word elevator pitch only includes 5-6 sentences. In fact, this detailed outline contains over 100 words.
Take a look at this example and learn how to sharpen your sentences into quick, powerful points. Some people like to use a lot of words to get your ideas out of their heads and onto paper.
If you’re one of these types, write a verbose first draft of your elevator speech just to get your thoughts in order.
Then, review the document a few times and find ways to make each sentence do its job with slightly fewer words than before.
To make this outline work, you’ll need to include many points per sentence, as I have below:
Elevator pitch example #2: Follow a comprehensive outline
“Do you hate shearing stubborn alpacas by hand? I’m Joe Neely from DroneClip. I enjoy connecting animal lovers to technologies like our DroneScoop waste solution. I’m here at the Alpaca Festival to learn from you, the experts. Our hands-free DroneClip shearing system outperforms hand-shears so you can limit your employee hours. We saved one rancher, Bob Mikabob, over 40 weekly work-hours. When can I visit your farm, demonstrate our product, and meet your neighbors?”
Construct an elevator pitch for any purpose: example of custom writing
A simple format like Monroe’s Motivate Sequence may help you create the best elevator pitch for your purposes. This flexible structure can be adapted for everything from job interviews to investor meetings–and beyond:
- Get Attention
- Establish a Need
- Satisfy This Need
- Visualize Consequences
- Present a CTA
Say you want a promotion from Assistant Alpaca Wrangler to Chief Wool-Gatherer. Tailor Monroe’s Motivate Sequence to your needs and make a quick, 30-second presentation (to anyone who will listen). Let your colleagues, supervisors, and managers know why you deserve this lofty position.
Elevator pitch example #3: Adapt this format to your needs
“Yuck–I can’t believe how much loose alpaca hair floats around in our barn. I just got some in my mouth! Wouldn’t it be great if someone kept this place hair-free? I’d be glad to go around and scoop it all up. If we added a Chief Wool-Gatherer position, it would surely pay for itself by reducing waste and increasing profits. Tell the boss you want me to start, right away!”
No matter your desired outcome, it always pays to present your plans in a coherent, logical fashion. Make your speeches short and to the point, only mentioning the most relevant facts and opportunities.
The elevator pitch writing process
Sometimes it helps to see the process itself. You can adjust your speechwriting efforts according to the following brief, step-by-step elevator pitch example. To keep this section readable, I’ll create a short 30-word blurb, not an entire 75-word elevator pitch.
Elevator pitch example #4: Working with words
1) Write down all your ideas, regardless of word count.
“I’m Joe Neely and I want alpaca lovers to buy my T-shirts. I want people to feel proud of their animals and spread the word about our brand. Our brand is called DroneClip. We offer hands-free alpaca shearing solutions like FAA-approved UAV/UAS quad-copters for ranchers who want to save time and money and have more resources to invest in other aspects of their operations.”
2) Get rid of unnecessary details. The 64-word paragraph I created in Step 1 is a good start, but I can do better. First, I can cut the redundancies in my extremely-long final sentence:
“I’m Joe Neely and I want alpaca lovers to buy my T-shirts. I want people to feel proud of their animals and spread the word about our brand. Our brand is called DroneClip. We offer hands-free alpaca shearing solutions like FAA-approved UAV/UAS quad-copters for ranchers who want to save time and money.”
3) Remove any confusing or unfamiliar industry jargon. Now I’m down to 53 words. I must remove the drone-specific language in the last sentence to avoid confusing listeners. (I can always provide educational materials defining these terms in later interactions with my customers.)
“I’m Joe Neely and I want alpaca lovers to buy my T-shirts. I want people to feel proud of their animals and spread the word about our brand. Our brand is called DroneClip. We offer hands-free alpaca shearing solutions for ranchers who want to save time and money.”
4) Shorten and connect your sentences. You can communicate your entire unique selling proposition quickly if you limit your use of “stop words.” These little connectors help sentences flow, but you don’t need as many if you combine 2-3 statements.
“I’m Joe Neely–Alpaca lovers buy my T-shirts to share their love of Alpacas and DroneClip. We offer hands-free alpaca shearing solutions for ranchers who want to save time and money.”
5) Review and ask, “What’s in it for the listener?” I’ve pared down my key points to a reasonable length (31 words). Before I polish up my final product, I need to make sure I’ve addressed the benefits customers can expect from my product. Sure, I’ve told people what the product does, but I’m selling T-shirts, not drones, in this example.
“I’m Joe Neely from DroneClip. Get our T-shirts to share your love of Alpacas and impress people by promoting the latest technology. We offer hands-free alpaca shearing solutions for ranchers who want to save time and money.”
6) Polish your speech and hit your target word count. This little blurb says everything I need it to say. I present both my T-shirt enticement product (which would also work well as a freebie) and my big sell (DroneClip drone systems).
Now, I just need to combine my introduction with my final sentence and add a few tweaks (for example, “time and money” became “resources” and then simply “frugal”).
“I’m DroneClip’s Joe Neely. We offer hands-free shears for frugal ranchers. Buy a T-shirt, show you love Alpacas, and impress people with this fun new technology.”
I’ve narrowed down my word count, added an idea, and refined my language. With similar efforts on your longer, 75-word elevator speech, you can maximize your potency. Make the most of your limited time and say the most you can in fewer words!
Sample elevator pitches you do not want to emulate
Elevator pitch example #5: Avoid truisms, buzzwords, and hyperbole
“Hi, I’m Joe Neely–I’m here to tell you all about the best drones ever constructed. The U.S. military has nothing on our sUAS and UAV options. With DroneClip, the world’s greatest corporation, you’ll be flying over the sky in your own battle robot–which also clips alpaca hair! If you’re flying, you’re flying with DroneClip–and winning the battle against hand-shears!”
In this elevator pitch example, I didn’t hold back and spoke as I would to a drone enthusiast. Not only are many of the claims in this blurb highly-exaggerated (hyperbole), I’ve also used unfamiliar buzzwords/industry terms.
Instead of providing clear and concise content, I’ve fluffed-up this elevator pitch so much with useless and obvious statements (truisms) that I didn’t have room for a CTA.
Elevator pitch example #6: Weed out fillers and annoyances
“Do you hate alpaca hair? Do wish you’d bought yaks instead? No? Do you love alpacas and say, ‘leave the yaks to the hacks?’ Well, I’m Joe Neely–come one, come all to the DroneClip side of the street. You can’t go wrong with this system –it’s the best in the business. Do you want the finest alpaca hair machine money can buy? Well, step right up and buy one today!”
If you include too many fillers like leading questions and side tangents, you’ll only annoy your customers. Don’t come off like a carnival barker; you want people to view you as a professional who knows when not to come on too strong.
Don’t insult your audience’s attention by filling their ears with unfounded claims. Be sure to describe a valid consumer need–and how your product/service meets it.
Elevator pitch example #7: Don’t change the subject and ask too much of people
“Hi–I’m Joe Neely and I want you to–I mean, if you want to, you can… Buy the DroneClip right now, my friend. You don’t need to see how it works – trust me when I say it solves all your problems, champ. I hope you like this product, sweetie, because I don’t know if… I meant to say DroneClip is the best alpaca hair solution and you’ll save a lot with it. Just ask your neighbors–in fact, my man, buy one for each of them!”
Let’s face it. No one will buy a major piece of farm equipment unseen and untested. They certainly won’t buy one for their neighbors/competitors. Ask your customers for too much too soon, and you’ll look silly. Also, changing the tone from indecisive to enthusiastic makes people uncomfortable. Calling people by inappropriate and unprofessional nicknames and trailing off mid-sentence makes you sound completely insincere–as if it were your first day on the job (or the planet).
The bottom line
Stick with the elevator pitch examples and outlines I’ve offered earlier in this article, and you’ll present yourself with class and style. Take the necessary time to sculpt, polish, and practice your speech.
An award-winning elevator pitch can’t sell by itself; you must devote time and effort to making it sound natural in your best speaking voice.
However, don’t spend too much time on this effort; track your time to ensure you spend an appropriate amount on this project without obsessing.
Once you have a good speech prepared, you need to try it out in real-life situations. Whether you sell big or flop the first time, you’ll gain the experience you need to keep improving.
You’ll keep improving your sales skills throughout your career; just get out there and start talking to people–today!