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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Do I need an elevator pitch? What makes one engaging and effective?

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Professional man and woman inside an elevator where one is giving their elevator pitch

Have you ever been asked “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?”?

Are you prepared with a succinct response clearly conveying the most important information being sought? Or do you stammer and freeze? Or ramble on until their eyes glaze over?

Bring an elevator pitch to the rescue!

What is an elevator pitch?

"An elevator speech is a 20- to 30-second introduction of a person’s background and why they are attending a particular event. Named for the time it takes to ride an elevator (20 to 30 seconds), it can be used in any networking situation."

Why do I need an elevator pitch?

Last week’s post looked at the role of small talk in communication. An elevator pitch can be an important response to many questions one might be asked when others are getting to know you.

An elevator pitch can also be helpful in job interviews, when asked to introduce yourself before a presentation or during an event, or in writing a brief bio for a written article.

Various roles may call for different elevator pitches – completely professional for some and more personal for others. You might introduce yourself quite differently meeting a new neighbor or other parents at a PTO meeting than at a conference.

What makes an elevator pitch engaging and effective?

Chapter 39 provides a useful list of tips to help you perfect your elevator speech. I will expand on each one.


Define the audience and potential scenarios before crafting the words. When you write it, remember to address WIIFM – what’s in it for me. What does the audience want and need to know about you?

Make the message memorable.

Open with a hook. A hook is something engaging that draws the audience in and makes them want to continue listening. What makes your story unique? How does it relate to your audience?

Help the audience visualize what is being said.

Use descriptive language to help formulate the situation and provide a solution to put the issue into perspective. Do your words paint a picture? Do they convey the importance of what you are saying?

Finalize the speech.

It should be no longer than 90 words. After drafting, cut ruthlessly.

Practice, practice, practice!

Be prepared to say it differently to answer the question being asked. It should not sound scripted even if memorized.

Leave the audience with a call to action that will inspire them to act and follow up.

What do you want the audience to do in response to your elevator speech?

It’s time to write your elevator pitch!

If you haven’t written an elevator speech or pitch before, now’s the time!

The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you're with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over. ~ Seth Godin

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