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If you were at a networking event and an investor asked you about your business, would you have a well-crafted response ready to go that encapsulates your company, expertise, passions, and goals? The ability to succinctly and compellingly speak about your business – often referred to as an elevator pitch – can mean the difference between sparking interest and missing out on an opportunity.

A brief and compelling explanation of your business concept, an elevator pitch, is one of the most important tools you have to captivate an investor, attract a new customer, or forge a partnership. As both an entrepreneur and an investor who has been on the giving and receiving end of many elevator pitches, I want to dissect the core components that can help you craft your own.

What is an Elevator Pitch and Why is it Important?

An elevator pitch is a short, persuasive speech that’s less than a minute long – or about as long as a brief elevator ride.

“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to provide a snapshot of your business idea, generating interest and leaving a lasting impression on your audience.” – Nancy Twine

No matter what stage of entrepreneurship you’re in, you’ll need to be able to attract interest in your business in a clear and concise manner. Having an effective elevator pitch in your arsenal will be invaluable as you look to build new business relationships and partnerships.

How to Craft an Effective Elevator Pitch

1. Share about yourself

The pitch should provide context about who you are and where your expertise lies. Instead of listing your entire work history or delving into nitty-gritty details, you should provide a high-level glimpse into what you do, what you’re passionate about, and how your business fits into that story. Be yourself – authenticity goes a long way.

2. Highlight what makes your business unique

Focus on your unique value proposition, or what sets your business apart from the competition. Does your start-up leverage an innovative design, formula, or approach? Use the uniqueness of your products or services to pique your audience’s interest.

3. Talk about the problem your business solves

What are the main pain points or gaps in the market that your business addresses? Clearly define what solution your product or services offer to customers and why you’re passionate about solving that particular problem. If your audience feels your passion, they’ll be much more engaged in what you’re sharing and will be more likely to show interest in your products/services.

4. End with a call to action

Whether it’s scheduling a follow-up meeting to explore a partnership, make a purchase, or simply to share more information, guide your listener toward next steps.

5. Be clear and concise

Keeping your pitch clear and brief is paramount. Avoid jargon or detailed explanations. Instead, focus on delivering an easy-to-understand message that encapsulates you and your business in a short period of time.

Need some extra inspiration for your elevator pitch? Download our sample pitch scripts to help you get started.

Tailoring Your Elevator Pitch to Different Audiences

In order for your elevator pitch to be effective, it needs to be customized for your specific audience. What resonates with a customer is quite different from what appeals to an investor. Here’s what you should keep in mind when delivering an elevator pitch to different audiences:

Pitching to an investor

If you’re in the early rounds of fundraising, highlight what makes your start-up distinct. Mention research that supports the need for your product, interest you’ve received from retailers or press, and validation you’ve earned from your advisors and mentors. Emphasize the scalability and financial viability of your business, but at the same time, be sure to share about the inspiration behind your genuine passion for your product or the services you provide. An investor wants to see an authentic connection between you and your business.

Pitching to a customer

Adjust your pitch to focus on the specific benefits a customer will gain from your product or service. How will your products add value to their lives? In what ways will your services make their lives easier or more fulfilling? Address their pain points directly and showcase how your offering meets their needs. Remember, creating an authentic connection with a customer and predicting what they might require is much more valuable than just listing statistics or accolades.

Pitching to a partner or collaborator

Craft a pitch that highlights the meaningful potential for collaboration and the mutual benefit. Showcase how a partnership can create value for both parties and contribute to your shared goals.

Practice Makes a Perfect Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is only as effective as your ability to deliver it well. Whether you’re introducing yourself to someone at a networking event, pitching during a formal meeting, or literally riding an elevator with a potential business partner, you’ll have to be ready to deliver at a moment’s notice. That’s why it’s so important to practice your pitch in advance.

Seek feedback from mentors, peers, or industry experts to refine your pitch and make sure it resonates with your intended audience. Once you’ve arrived at a place you’re happy with, practice it regularly to ensure you’re comfortable delivering it. Time yourself, but make sure you’re speaking conversationally and not like you’re reading from a script. Don’t forget about tone and body language, which are just as important as your words. Practice in front of a mirror to study your posture, eye contact, and gestures. The more comfortable you are with your pitch, the more confident you’ll be when delivering it.

A well-crafted — and well-delivered — elevator pitch can open doors to funding, partnerships, and new customers. As your first impression, it’s an opportunity to pique interest and make a lasting impact. Use this tool to tell the story of your entrepreneurial venture and leverage it to make new, valuable connections.

Do you need feedback on your elevator pitch? Share a draft with the community. Or, tell us about what worked for you when delivering a pitch!