What's an 'Elevator Pitch' and do you really need one?

What's an 'Elevator Pitch' and do you really need one?
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Tue 18th Feb 2014

Pitching is a crucial skill for today's entrepreneur. Whether you are looking for funding or trying to get your product listed by a major retailer you need to have a pitch that is well rehearsed and pertinent to your audience. They take a lot of work but time spent perfecting your pitch can make or break your fledging business.

But what on earth is an 'Elevator Pitch'? Legend has it that a career at the global HQ of General Electric could be made or broken by the ability as a junior intern to articulate what you were bringing to the GE party during a ride in one of the infamous super-long GE lifts. So can you just dismiss it as a new-fangled American thing that can be ignored?

In a word, "No"! Although they might not be called 'elevator pitches' the UK business scene is littered with requests for you to "present your business in 60 seconds", "do a 2 minute pitch" or even answer the simple question "what do you do?" Being able to succinctly explain what you and your business are really about is a valuable thing to have worked out well before you are standing in the spotlight at a business breakfast or similar.

"But I don't want to sound like a robot" I hear you cry. Of course you don't. The best elevator pitches are adapted to the situation. But like a good cocktail it is important to get your ingredients right. Here's one recipe that we like for a formal event:

  • Your name and your company name: "Hi, I'm Sarah from Mootastic Ices."

  • What you do and a little memorable story: "We make small batch high quality ice-cream. One of our customers is Newbury racecourse who we invented a special recipe for - 'Finishing Post Pistachio'. They sold out in less than 2 hours and Clare Balding was seen enjoying some on BBC TV!"

  • What you are looking for and your name and company again: "I'm looking to meet retailers interested in listing high quality ice-cream. I'm Sarah from Moostastic Ices." *

If you are standing up to deliver a 60 second intro at an event you can be more scripted (like the above), and if you are standing in snazzy bar with a martini you can make it sound more natural.

People love stories. They are more likely to remember the 'Finishing Post Pistachio anecdote' than a whole pile of statistics about Sarah's P&L. Adapt it to the situation but having a plan of what you and your business is all about can really boost your business and your confidence at the same time.

*This situation is pure fiction. But we do like pistachio ice-cream.

Lois Ireson is a communication skills trainer and coach at and an enthusiastic Enterprise Nation member. If you like drinks, triathlons and gardening follow Lois on twitter @loisireson.

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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