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7 Essentials for an Elevator Pitch That Gets People to Listen Brevity is the soul of wit and about all the typical attention span will tolerate.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


There is never any predicting what interaction, whether it's in a grocery store or at a networking function, will present a new business opportunity. That's why it's important to always be prepared to seize the day.

The key that unlocks these opportunities is an elevator pitch that grabs people's attention and makes them remember you and want to talk with you further.

To craft a pitch that is succinct and compelling keep these seven fundamental factors in mind.

1. Be brief.

The elevator pitch is so named because you must be able to summarize your idea in the time it takes to travel from one floor to another. In terms of actual time, that generally means you've got less than one minute to make a connection and a strong impression on someone.

2. Be clear.

From first line to closing sentence, your elevator pitch must convey a coherent message in easy-to-understand language. This important message is about you. How you deliver it is as important as the content. Speak in an even but energetic tone, stand up straight, smile and maintain eye contact.

Related: 8 Common Elevator Pitch Blunders, and How to Fix Them

3. Make it specific to your audience.

Delivering a good elevator pitch is like playing an instrument. You want to memorize the melody so you can improvise variations and still sound authentic instead of rehearsed. You'll play your instrument slightly different for various audiences. For example, vary your pitch accordingly for prospects versus potential service partners.

4. Highlight your benefits.

In most professional settings, people are much less interested in who you are than what you do and what you can do for them. If you open with something like "I'm a (fill in the blank)," be sure to expand on your job title by explaining why this matters to your listeners.

5. Identify the problem and your solution.

What matters most to your listeners is that you are credible and competent at what you do, and you have uniquely-effective solutions to their specific business problems. Communicate that you understand the nature of their core problem and succinctly explain what your solution is, how you plan to implement it, and how your product or service trumps the competition.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Elevator Pitch Isn't Working

6. Make a compelling call-to-action.

Tell your listeners what you would like them to do and how they'll benefit from doing it. For example, you may want prospects to hire you or buy your product, and potential service providers to consider partnering with you. Remember, people can only do what you want them to do when you are clear and concise.

7. Extend an invitation to continue the conversation.

As the elevator doors slide open and your listener is about to walk out, they'll want to learn more about you if you've made a convincing pitch. Say something like, "May I give you my card?" Then ask them if you may contact them to schedule a follow-up lunch appointment or meeting. You increase your chances of earning the sale when you say what you do, then do what you say.

An elevator pitch is arguably your most important marketing tool because it's often the first thing that people learn about you. It's best delivered in person and can be revised on the spot for virtually any situation. Improve your pitch's persuasiveness by practicing it frequently with different people in various settings, and watch your success rate rise higher and higher.

Related: Why the Elevator Pitch Hurts Your Chances of Winning New Clients

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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