Even in the business world, first impressions are everything. The average person has just seven seconds to develop their image, communicate their passion, and offer insight about their goals.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know this “impression pressure’”all too well. If you can’t sum up your work, your business, or your personal angle in two minutes or less, you might not be putting your best foot forward for investors, clients, or key stakeholders.
Enter the humble elevator pitch, designed to spark interest and encourage questions across a wide variety of listeners. Elevator pitches are short, simple, and valuable, and used to create a strong connection with others through purpose-driven sentences.
But developing a coherent pitch about yourself and your business is no easy task. With the average elevator ride taking less than 118 seconds, crafting meaningful sentences with meaty information can seem daunting. Who are you, what do you do, and why should others care?
Let’s walk through the steps of creating a first draft elevator pitch, including some helpful templates that will guide and refine your final work.
Tips for crafting an impactful elevator pitch
Whether you’re pitching your business to a potential investor or introducing yourself to a new client, you must be able to communicate an impactful elevator pitch that is brief, professional, and descriptive.
Here are a few tips for sharpening your pitch into a finely tuned flywheel.
Focus on hard numbers
Provide legitimate information about your company, brand, or personal milestones by using concrete numbers that support your claims. Add a brief sentence about your number of clients served, your percent of growth, or the amount of money you’ve saved for customers. This is a great place to rope in some social proof, pointing out influencers, celebrities, and audience members that trust your brand.
Kill your darlings
The phrase “kill your darlings,” coined by legendary author William Faulkner, reminds entrepreneurs to edit their pitches ruthlessly—or risk presenting a weaker pitch as a result. Don’t be afraid to get rid of extraneous verbiage or unnecessary info. Get rid of articles (the, a) and prepositions (about, around, after) that do little more than take up space. Like a movie script or a good novel, every sentence you write should push the narrative forward.
Comparisons, metaphors, and analogies
People love when complex information is translated into digestible, comprehensible pieces. When it comes to making an impactful elevator pitch, comparisons, metaphors, and analogies will be your best friends. Use each of them to tell a colorful and engaging story about your business. Research suggests that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to generate brand interest—a must-have inclusion in your next pitch.
Construct a cadence
Whether you’re speaking, typing, or recording a video, be sure that your elevator pitch actually sounds good. Chunky sentences or confusing verb placements are anything but harmonic, and will keep audiences from getting totally invested with your brand. Try reading what you’ve written out loud, and identify problem areas that need smoothing.
Simple elevator pitch templates for major audiences
Not all elevator pitches are created equal. Different hooks work best for different audiences, which advocate for unique concluding actions according to initial intent. It pays to be familiar with your listeners and desired outcomes in advance, which is why familiarizing yourself with multiple pitch templates is a surefire means of success.
There are three major audiences that entrepreneurs communicate with regularly: the business peer, the client, and the investor.
The business peer
Whether you’re looking to partner up or just making the rounds at a networking event, elevator pitches should be used to engage and inspire entrepreneurs in your circle. Generalization is key, as is following a specific formula.
The business peer elevator pitch template is broken into four parts:
- Name, company, and what you do
- Unique value proposition (UVP)
- A milestone factoid
- A call to action
Your final pitch may read something like this:
I’m John, owner of PestPro in Madison Heights, Virginia. We offer all-natural pest control solutions to farm and ranch owners, without harming plants, pollinators, or cash crops.
Unlike many contemporary pest control companies, PestPro creates lasting solutions that work hand-in-hand with nature.
We reduce reliance on pesticides by combining IPM with professional etymology, serving more than 1,500 properties across the county.
If you have a farm or ranch that needs holistic solutions, visit pestpro.com to speak with the team.
Bombarding clients with trivial information is the last thing you want to do at the point of sale. Instead, formulate an elevator pitch that informs, directs, and inspires prospects without a long-winded introduction that leads to frustration.
This sales template is a perfect option:
- Start with a relatable sentence.
- Wait for a response.
- Add a business peer pitch (see above).
Let’s turn back to the example of John at PestPro.
How many times have you lost cash crops to pests that are insecticide resistant? Stronger pesticides would harm your fields, a loss that could cost thousands of dollars.
PestPro in Madison Heights offers all-natural pest solutions to the mindful farmer, providing solutions to product-resistant insects without putting crops in danger.
We’ve served more than 1,500 properties all across Virginia, and we’d be honored to help you as well.
Just give me an estimate of your property size, and I’ll get you a free quote ASAP.
Investors need to know that your business means business. They are also extremely busy, attending to hundreds of elevator pitches every single day. If you don’t stand out while giving your spiel, you shouldn’t bother.
It’s best to use a professional elevator pitch template:
- Opening hook that identifies the problem and introduces the solution
- Information related to your business (the product, the market, the competition)
- Passionate call to action
Here’s how John from PestPro might approach this:
More than 40% of the world’s crop production is lost to pest activity. But the use of pesticides is increasingly problematic, especially against aggressively resistant insect species.
PestPro seeks to combat this, protecting farmers and ranchers across Virginia with all-natural pest control services. Unlike conventional treatments that cause unintentional chemical drift, PestPro products work directly on target plants with no secondary effects.
Our farmers work hard enough. With adequate funding, PestPro would be able to service 95% of all working farms in Virginia.
Keep in mind that this template isn’t for detailed investor pitch meetings, just for establishing an initial foundation. Be sure to tweak your approach to meet the needs of your specific audience.
Creating opportunities, one pitch at a time
The ultimate goal of an elevator pitch isn’t to make a sale. A good pitch won’t always move people to tears, or increase conversions, or even land you that big client. But it will spark interest and attention, which puts you leagues ahead of other competitors.
And remember: elevator pitches are not stagnant pieces of writing. Instead, they are living, constantly evolving words that will become more poignant as time goes on. Find your niche, keep track of what works, and look for new ways to improve your presentation.
You never know when an elevator pitch might come in handy, so keeping one in the back of your mind is always a safe bet. Be sure to rehearse often in front of a mirror, or practice with family and friends to get honest feedback. It pays to be prepared.
Remember, you have 118 seconds to show the world who you are. Armed with an elevator pitch that’s been refurbished and refined, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your professional goals.