Importance of elevator pitch

I am currently in Washington DC, United Sates, having been privileged to be one of the six participants from Zimbabwe on the United States Department of State-funded Business Entrepreneurship Exchange Programme (Beep).


Some of the aims of the programme are to strengthen the participants’ understanding of American business practices, entrepreneurship, culture and values.

It also gives the participants an opportunity to interact with leaders and business people in the US.

As part of the programme, we are required to come up with an “elevator pitch”.

Last week we were introduced to a high profile individual who introduced himself and asked us to introduce ourselves. We had to say our elevator pitches.

Unfortunately, many of us failed to keep our pitches short.

Subsequently, introductions that were supposed to take a maximum of about 15 to 20 minutes took double the time. As a result, to our detriment, the gentleman had to cut his presentation short.

Every professional and business person has to have an elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch as defined by Wikipedia is “a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organisation or event and its value proposition”.

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

It is one of the most effective methods available to reach new buyers, investors and clients with a winning message.

Here are some things to keep in mind when formulating and delivering your elevator pitch.

  • Who is your audience?
    Take into consideration your audience.  An elevator pitch may be geared towards a potential investor, sponsor or potential client.
    Therefore, adjust the pitch to the person who is listening.
    Your language, your approach and what you choose to highlight for a particular audience has to be relevant.
  • What is your product or service?
    Briefly describe what it is you sell.
  • Who is your market?
    Briefly discuss who you are selling the product or service to.  What industry is it?  How large a market do they represent?
  • Who is behind the company?
    Tell them a little about you and your team’s background and achievements.
  • What is your competitive advantage?
    Effectively communicate how your company is different and why you have an advantage over the competition.
  • Practice, practice, practice
    An elevator pitch is extremely important and worth taking the time to develop so it is easily understood and projects exactly what it is that you do.
    It may mean that you try out many elevator pitches until you find the right one.
    The perfect elevator pitch will enable you to make that great first impression that achieves the goal of getting a second meeting.

 Nonto Masuku is an executive partner of an image management firm

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