What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a quick explanation of a business idea or other proposal. The term reflects the idea that in the time it takes to ride an elevator, the speaker should be able to summarize the key elements of the idea in a compelling way.

How Does an Elevator Pitch Work?

Elevator pitches are a key part of raising money for new ventures. For example, let's say John Doe has a business idea and wants to raise some capital from investors. His idea is detailed, involves technology and patents and other complicated concepts, and has several big elements.

Because investors don't always have time to listen to a two-hour explanation of John's idea, and because they need help understanding what the big deal is, John creates an elevator pitch: a 30-second speech that summarizes the mission, the idea, the reasons it will succeed, and what he wants the listener to do. This way, an interested investor can see the big picture right away and decide whether he or she wants to schedule time to learn more about John's idea.

Why Does an Elevator Pitch Matter?

Deals are made and broken because of elevator pitches. If they are not compelling and articulate, the speaker will likely never get to the next level with an investor, employer, or influencer.

Elevator pitches aren’t just for startups, however. People looking for jobs should also develop elevator pitches about themselves so that they can tell prospective employers what their skills, objectives, and requirements are in 30 seconds or less. Similarly, any employee with a big idea should develop an elevator pitch -- you never know when you might happen to be in an elevator with the CEO.