The Art of The Elevator Pitch

The “elevator pitch.” This clever phrase refers to one’s ability to summarize their brilliant idea or experience, for a captive audience, in the time it takes an elevator to descend to the lobby.

Elevators aside, knowing how to sell yourself succinctly can also prove invaluable during interviews, at cocktail parties and even upon first meeting the in-laws. So, as a successful professional, why haven’t you composed your own version yet?

Maybe you are confident in your ability to wing it, if and when the need arises. After all, you know what’s on your own resume, don’t you?

Your written resume or bio is probably one extremely long run-on recitation of every kind of work that you do, and for every type of entity or industry. Unless you are inclined to push the emergency STOP button in your “elevator” you simply don’t have that kind of time. In addition, while you might assume you can rattle off this information on demand — ask a friend to test you — you might be surprised to hear yourself stumble.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, I’ll need to tailor my pitch to the person I’m speaking to at that time, so why bother preparing anything in advance?”

Try to remember that whomever is in the elevator with you has never seen you before, never heard anything about what you do or how you do it.  Start with that premise.  And, remember….unless you are in an extremely tall building (or, an extremely slow elevator in France) ….you have about 1 minute to complete your pitch.

So Where Do You Start?

All elevator pitches will contain the basic “bio bits” – that is, what you do and for whom. As attention spans are now officially extinct, your goal here is short “sound bites.” Pretend you are on TV. Like salt or accessories, you can always add more.

First, in one sentence, briefly answer the question, “Who are you?” For example:

“I am a partner in the White Collar Litigation department of XYZ law firm.”

OR “I am an artist, and the co-founder of a small toy company.”

Now, in another sentence comprised of no more than two or three individual concepts, briefly summarize what you do. For example:

“I focus on compliance efforts, crisis management and helping clients who are facing investigations or enforcement proceedings.”

OR “All of our products are hand-carved from wood, painted with non-toxic and water-based paints, and made here in the US – in fact, in our very own state.”

Once you’ve created this manageable one-two punch, rehearse it occasionally, perhaps with one or two variations (depending upon your audience and their specific needs), to engage your mental muscle memory and make your delivery sound more natural.

Be sure to practice regularly…..we have a PDF you can download with some idea-generating content for you at:


xoxo, Rosanna
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