Why You Need an Elevator Pitch (and How to Create One)

Over the course of my career, I’ve listened to thousands of sales pitches. These have come from authors, speakers, vendors, employees, investors, and even politicians.

Some of these pitches were remarkable; most were not. Those making them squandered the opportunity to make the sale. What they needed was a carefully-crafted “elevator pitch.”

I’m sure your familiar with the concept. An elevator pitch is simply a short summary of your product offering, including your target market and your value proposition.

The name comes from the idea that you should be able to deliver a succinct, compelling description of what you offer in the time it takes to ride an elevator up a few floors—approximately 30 seconds to two minutes.

The idea originated with entrepreneurs who needed to pitch their business proposals quickly to potential investors in order to secure funding. This enabled those same investors to quickly eliminate ideas that were ill-conceived or simply didn’t fit their investment profile.

In this short video, I explain why you need an elevator pitch (even if you are not looking for investors) and how you can create one. Specifically, I share:

  • Why you need an elevator pitch—even if you never share it with anyone else.
  • How an elevator pitch helps you better understand your customers’ needs.
  • The way an elevator pitch can help you attract the resources you need to succeed.
  • The four components of an effective elevator pitch and a live example of how it works. (We had a lot of fun with this one!)

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  3. In our Backstage Pass I share my favorite WordPress plugins. These are the ones I am currently using.

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Question: What new product or service do you have that could benefit from a carefully crafted pitch? (Extra points if you share the pitch itself in the comments!) You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://bocia.tumblr.com/ Simone

    Video is private..

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Sorry about that. It should be working now. Thanks.

  • http://rallyyourgoals.com/ r/ally

    Most people fail to understand that most people only know what you tell them about yourself. We have yet to learn how to read minds.

  • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

    Great video, Michael. Love the elevator! I’m actually doing a pitch tomorrow to a group of business professionals, about creating a product that will help clients craft the perfect presentation for a specific business audience. I’ll be using Prezi to show the big picture of the idea, a short video to illustrate the intended outcome, and a few well crafted Powerpoint slides to graphically demonstrate the financial rewards for investors. This will be tied into a 10 minute interactive speech with audience participation to build rapport and gain support. Your video above is an inspiration. Very well done, real world application.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. I appreciate that. Good luck with your presentation!

      • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

        Thanks, Michael. Curious, have you ever used Prezi before? I’m building my first one and having fun with the timeline. I like the interface for the product overview.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          No, but I have definitely considered it. It looks really cool.

          • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

            Hey Michael, I did my first Prezi today. Pretty happy with the software. It tied in graphics and video well. Not as many features as Powerpoint or Keynote, but the zoom in function was great at illustrating the big picture and then zooming in on the fine points. Question for you, what type of video camera/DSLR did you use for this video and what type of mic? I’m in the market, and would love to hear your recommendations.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            Glad to hear it, John. I want to try a Prezi soon.

            This video was shot by my video production team. They are using Canon 5Ds. I don’t know what the mic was. It’s a wireless lav with a transmitter and a receiver.

            When I am shooting myself, I use a Canon 60D. It’s awesome. I think, however, it has been superseded by the Canon 70D. Honestly, I don’t think most people will be able to tell the difference. Thanks.

        • JeremyStreich

          Prezi has reputation for making people sea sick. The motion effects don’t bother me, but I have two co workers who can’t watch a Prezi presentation without getting nauseated.

          Personally, I think content is more important than tool. I don’t care if you Prezi, PowerPoint or an old overhead projector — what matters is what you have to say, and how well you use the tools to say it. If I’m focusing on the tool you used, or if I’m asking “Why did they use that tool” the presentation is need of help. If you present your ideas clearly, and I’m thinking about what you said rather than the tool you used, then you did it right.

          • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

            Content is certainly more important than the tool. The most important key in Powerpoint is the B key, to bring up a blank slide.That being said, certain tools can help visually get a point across. I like the idea of Prezi to illustrate the big picture and to drill down into content. I will be using a seven slide deck over a ten minute time frame, so I wouldn’t expect people to get sick from that. My whole presentation is to a group of speakers on how to effectively give a TED style speech using limited visuals. Personally, I have seen very few Powerpoint style presentations that are effective, yet thousands are given every day. Michael Hyatt is one presenter who does it exceptionally well.

  • Mark Hoaglin

    I am starting a platform to help Boomers with retirement planning. Not a real sexy topic. Could use some ideas on grabbing readers attention. Thanks

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What are their pain points? I recommend addressing those.

  • Rick

    One of your best posts ever. You nicely discusse the issue and the 2 elevator examples were very well done. Thanks.

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    That was a great video! I did want to say however, it gives a “this video is private” error when trying to view it through feedly. But other wise awesome content, I’ll be putting together my elevator pitch in the coming weeks. Thanks as always.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That may be because the video was initially set to private; I am not sure. Glad you got it working. Thanks.

  • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    This was a hoot – LOVED the elevator examples!
    Okay, here is goes with a recent affiliate VA product I helped my VA company come up with:
    I connect busy coaches, speakers, consultants, and authors with my VA (virtual assistant) company to help them replace the busy day-to-day blogging and social media activities. Most entrepuers are trying to juggle so much today that it is causing them to become unfocused, unproductive and stressed out in not only their business, but also their family life. I Love My VA service helps entrepueners to delegate some of their daily tasks so they can free up their time and energies to work on things to bring that will the best ROI of their efforrts in not only their businesses but also their lives.
    p.s. for those not over at Platform University – totally worth the investment!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Jen, you have all the elements. Here’s the tweaking I would do, based on the four-component I outline I gave in the video.

      Component 1: Your Product Name or Category. I am helping market a VA service called, _______.

      Component 2: The problem you are attempting to solve. It was founded to assist busy coaches, speakers, consultants, and other entrepreneurs who feel unfocused, unproductive, and stressed out.

      Component 3: Your proposed solution. The company assigns you a personal, virtual assistant who manages your day-to-day blogging and social media activities.

      Component 4: The key benefit of your solution. This enables you to focus your time and energy on those specific activities that create the biggest ROI.

      This is a little tricky, because it is a third-product service rather than your own. Still, I think the principles apply.

      • http://www.ilovemyva.com/ Matthew Casteel

        Michael, Thank you so much for your help with this. While the offering technically comes from my company, @jenmcdonough:disqus and I have actually been “join venturing” on putting this together. So, we’ll BOTH be using your advice and making sure we can clearly communicate the offering in a way that sticks! Thank you, thank you :)

      • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

        Oh my gosh, thank you Michael!

  • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Okay, is this “clear” and focused enough for my own business?
    I help people learn how to leverage their adversities to reach their potential. Many people today are living busy, chaotic, and stressed out lives. We are seeing this show up in their finances as 70% of people today are living paycheck to paycheck, almost half of us are obese,and approximately half of marriages end up in divorce. In my roles as a motivational storyteller, Amazon Top 100 author, and empowering coach, I help people transform their weakest moments into becoming their strongest selves. When we do this, not only helps individuals grow stronger, but it also helps strengthen their families, the communities they live in and the organizations they work for.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Jen, this is terrific. This is more of a statement of your expertise, which is fine. The elevator pitch, as I envision it, is more product or program specific. It has all the elements you have listed here with the addition of your product name and category. Thanks.

      • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

        I kind of think of my speaking as a “product”, but I see what you mean. Thank you!

  • JeremyStreich

    I’m currently toying with two version of an elevator pitch:

    I am current building online and mobile educational tools for children of preschool and primary school ages. The amount of information we gain from usage statistics in the web and mobile world is astounding, but so many educational tools seem to ignore this information. The products I’m working on will be unique in using analytical data of student performance to iteratively improve the tools to increase student’s understanding and retention of material taught. I’m starting with basic math and reading, but want to expand into science and history.

    What if one small change on your homepage could raise your revenue by millions of dollars a year? In my work with website analytics, I’ve helped a college in a respected university do exactly that. Now, I want to leverage the same types of measuring, statistical analysis and testing that large online retailers use to increase their profits to improve the way online and mobile educational tools are developed. Instead of increasing revenue for titians of the digital age, I want increase preschool and primary school children’s understanding of reading, math, science and history.

    Any thoughts?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I much prefer the second version. It is much more benefit-focused. Thanks!

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    The scene in the elevator is priceless!

  • Jill K

    Love this topic! I am a program manager in software development…I would love some input. I am a customer focused program manager that strives for the
    “Art of the Possible” and
    harness my experience as an Artist and Scientist to enhance my ability to look
    at a sea of items and prioritize them from a business value perspective while aligning resources to complete the needs of the business. I’m dedicated
    to achieving the goal, self-motivated and provide energy to the team. My
    reservoir of skills include: high attention to detail, excellent
    follow-through, ability to harness and maximize the effectiveness and
    capabilities of the team. And I believe that – “Good is the enemy of the excellent – get busy on the
    good things and lose sight of the excellent.”

  • Tim Kuppler

    Love the 4 points. #1 is a little different than what I am used to advocating. It seems more focused on the “what” or “how” and not the “why” that can be far more powerful. I am in 100% agreement with points #2-4 but like starting with why as highlighted in the popular Simon Sinek video: http://www.startwithwhy.com/

  • Kim Avery

    Hi Michael, Thanks for the entertaining and informative video and the opportunity to get some feedback. That’s priceless.

    Here’s my current elevator pitch and I would love some thoughts on how to tweak or change it.

    I am marketing coach for new Christian coaches opening their own practices.

    With no real business experience to support them, these coaches are overworked, overwhelmed and over their heads.

    I provide bite-sized portions of actionable marketing information and inspiration – just what they need – just when they need it. Not too much, not too little.

    This allows them to create and implement a strengths-based marketing system at a pace comfortable for them, freeing them to coach more and market less.

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    Michael, I absolutely love the way you’ve presented the need for an elevator speech. In just a few brief moments you gave an elevator speech on why you need an elevator speed… very compelling.

    I continue to appreciate all you do to help remind guys like me that I have what it takes, but I need to continue to invest in myself and identify with words what I know is inside of me, driving me to succeed. Thx.

  • Shelly S. Cantrell

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and the comments today!

    I help busy, overwhelmed decision-makers focus on making wise choices now, that will free up time and energy later, so they can do more of what they really enjoy.

    Too broad, too specific, or too brief? Any and all feedback is welcome. :)

  • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

    I loved this video and actually got the chance to elevator pitch a few people at Platform Conference!

    I love that the idea of the pitch can be about a specific product (movie) and not just a general overview of myself. I’m still figuring what my audience wants from me as I feel I’m still too broad. Having a pitch for each service/product keeps me prepped so that I’m not at the mercy of waiting for the day when I figure out what my main service or product might be.

    I loved the skit…I LOL’d. Thanks, Michael.

  • http://bism.empowernetwork.com/ Paul Smithberger

    Great tips. One of the things most people who are looking to be more successful don’t realize is that they are selling themselves. Having a short pitch or personal story ready to go is a great way to crystalize what you are doing or selling.

  • http://www.joseph.michael.net/ Joseph Michael

    I totally needed this right now. I found benefit #2 to be extremely helpful. Getting into the customer’s head is what it’s all about. Brilliant! Thanks Michael.

  • http://workoptions.com/ Pat Katepoo

    What a clever and effective teaching video. I appreciate your invitation to share our elevator pitch. Here’s mine. You’ll notice I placed point #2 first, stating the problem up front.

    “You know how you’re constantly feeling stressed and time-pressed trying to balance both work and home life? And how your daily commute is a wasted time drain that just aggravates the situation?

    I have a proposal template package that persuades your boss to say “yes” to your request to telecommute from home two or three days a week. You can download it today and have your proposal done by tomorrow. It’s that fast, and 9 out of 10 people who use it get their boss’s approval to work from home. You’ll recapture several hours a week–that’s time to be with your family or to build your platform.”

    Open to input for improvements. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Excellent, Pat. It sounds like you are meeting a real need!

  • emmillerwrites

    Just was reading about elevator pitches today in Platform — how timely!

  • Jonathon Post

    Michael, what software do you use to write it? Do you use normal Microsoft Word or does something else help you with focus and inspiration? Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I write everything in Scrivener. Thanks.

  • http://lucychenfineart.com/ Lucy Chen

    My Elevator Pitch, Michael,

    “I’m a figurative artists and I write an art blog. People are distancing themselves from art because they think they do not understand it or they are not an art person. Through my painting and writing, I’m affirming anyone who has a remote interest in art, that they already understand art. So more and more people can live an inspired and creative life through art.”

  • http://www.spencermcdonald.net/ Spencer McDonald

    Hi Michael. I wanted to say your content is really rocking lately. I am enjoying it… and learning. Thank you for the great information on creating a personal elevator pitch. I do agree we all need one of those that matters from us and what we want out of our business and our lives. Thanks again.

  • http://www.todayicanchange.com/ Robb Gorringe

    Great video, Michael! […very creative.]

  • Daniel Enrique Diaz R

    Michael I enjoyed very much this video. you should’ve had so much fun doing the scene in a real elevator. This was a creative one!!

  • http://www.philippknoll.com/ Philipp Knoll

    WOW! Love the video. It’s great to see how even you are evolving in this area. Well Done!

    To get even more of an understanding for pitching and elevator pitches I suggest reading Oren Klaff’s book “Pitch Anything”. It really opened the door to a whole new way of thinking about selling for me.
    Key takeawayis: Never be needy! This is also the point I’d add to your 4 steps on How to Create an Elevator Pitch, if I may.

    That also leads me to one question directly related to your video. When at the end you walk out of the elevator the guy is pumped. However, all you replied was “This could work. Let’s be in touch”. What do you suggest the reaction one should go after in an elevator pitch should be. What is realistic? What should be expected?


  • http://www.laurenphelpscoaching.com/ Lauren Phelps

    Awesome video! I loved seeing the “before and after” elevator speech. I could use some work in this area! Thank you!

  • http://orgspring.com/ OrgSpring

    It’s funny, everyone likes to think what they do can’t be encapsulated into a 20 second pitch, I certainly was of that opinion. But after I had a few conversations with people who asked me what I do – I started noticing I was losing them when my explanation took too long to explain. It took me some time (a few months) to distill it, but the pitch is tight now – and I get much more “ooh, that’s interesting” or “oh, that’s a cool service” when i tell them, as opposed to people falling asleep while i explain. This is huge for nonprofits too, and I encourage them to go through this exercise – even if they don’t think they need it. Works great with funders, donors, etc.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      It’s like Pascal said “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

      • Jim Martin

        Joe, I am glad you included this great quote! This is great.

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Michael I love the idea and love the benefits. As someone who is in full time ministry I think the benefit of having clarity is huge! This is a great help bringing in others into the vision God has given me to provide leadership training that is available within the walls of every local church.

    Btw, it looks like your desk is right in front of a door!?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yea, it is in an old Victorian. We don’t use that door, as there is another. It was the perfect spot for my desk.

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        It’s a good reminder that we’re always standing in front of some sort of door of opportunity!

  • Allen O.

    Thanks Mr. Hyatt. I always wondered how effective one could communicate an idea in the short time you have in an elevator, but from your video, it shows that anyone can do it.
    Very applicable in real life situations
    Thank you

  • Luke

    Hi Michael, I just finished reading your book, “Platform”, which I purchased at a recent Summit ministries event. The content was very helpful, and I appreciated the short chapters on different aspects for ease of reading and reference.

    After watching your video, I thought I’d run my elevator pitch by you for a community news website I’m considering launching:

    “I’m preparing to launch a community news website called the Cameron City
    Sentinel. There is currently a huge lack of local news coverage for our city,
    yet residents are seeking relevant community news that they care about and affects
    them. I’m planning to solve this problem by covering timely news about local
    schools and sports, city government, and community events. In addition, a paper
    version would be delivered monthly to each household’s doorstep, and the
    editorial pages would be presented from a Christian perspective (similar to
    WORLD magazine).”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good job, Luke. Overall, I think you should try to tighten it. You need to be able to deliver it from memory. You have a lot of words. I would also work on making the benefit more explicit. Thanks.

      • luke

        Will do. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://timmilburn.com/ timage

    Great content in this post and video! One of the tools I’ve used to help me hone my message and create more “elevator speech” promotion is this simple template: “I help __name your specific audience____, to ____name the task that solves a problem____, so they can ____state the solution and benefit_____. This helps me get crystal clear on what I’m trying to do and who I’m doing it for.

    For example, one of my statements is: I help students to develop crucial leadership skills so they can be prepared for both their present and future responsibilities.

  • http://www.Marisashadrick.com/ Marisa Shadrick

    Michael, this was the best explanation of an elevator pitch. I finally get it! This was simple and easy to follow. The examples comparing good verses bad were helpful, and I just crafted my elevator pitch! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Marisa.

  • http://remotepossibilities.wordpress.com/ Craig Hadden

    Neat video, Michael! Seeing 2 pitches acted out made it fun, clear and “sticky” (memorable).

    Of the 4 components you suggest, I hadn’t even thought of using the first (stating the product and category)! Great idea, as it lets the listener quickly and clearly categorise what you say next.

    The elevator-pitch format I use has the other 3 parts you mentioned, and even begins with the word “You.” So it tackles benefit #2 (understanding the customer) right off. As it’s just 3 sentences, it’s a good way to be clear and concise too. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Sometimes it might work well to state the product and category AFTER the opening line. You and other book publishers must hear people say “I’m writing a book…” so often, it might be a turn-off to start that way.

    Imagine a pitch that began, “You know how people approach you all the time about the book they’re writing? Well I have a solution that filters all the ideas before they even reach you. So your time and mind will be freer to focus on the projects you’re working on. In fact, I’m even writing a book about it…”

    Ironic, I know! ;)

  • Schneider Elevator

    what is this disscussion about ?

    is this Elevator Companies in India ?