The Five Key Features of an Elevator Pitch

You may be familiar with the term “elevator pitch”, a term describing quick business chats as occupants rode to their floor. These introductions had to be brief, to the point, and memorable. In modern times, an elevator pitch is a short 30-60 second summary of who you are, what you do, and why you are the best at it.

It is important to note the difference between an elevator pitch and a sales pitch. A sales pitch is a formal presentation made with the intent to secure a deal. An elevator pitch, however, is a brief summary offered in casual settings to highlight your abilities and goals to attract job interviews and opportunities. You should be able to deliver your elevator pitch at any time.

The elevator pitch consists of three parts:

  • Who you are–your name and career title (if applicable)
  • What you do–your career description and ultimate job goal
  • Why you qualify–your credentials and experiences that apply to your specific goal

Once you identify the key features of your elevator pitch, you can create a concise and informative introduction you can deliver with ease.

Know your job target

It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you do not know the job you want, it will be hard to craft a focused pitch. Think about your ideal job, your qualifications, and why you are the best candidate for the position. When you put together your elevator pitch, determine the best way to concisely describe your field and the position you are pursuing. Remember, if you cannot define the job you want and why you are worthy of it, few people will be able to help or hire you for it.


A good pitch reveals three core facts about yourself: who you are, what you do, and what you are going after. Remember, you are not making a sales pitch, so choose ease over aggression. You are not selling anything, but you need to make a good impression during a brief encounter. Begin the first half of your pitch with the essentials–roughly 15 seconds–then devote the other half to laying out the details. State your name, your area of study or profession, and what position you would like to pursue. Follow up with your unique skills, prior experiences, and ideas for implementation.

Tailor your pitch to the appropriate audience

Keep in mind that the people hearing your pitch only care about one thing: what is in it for me? Be sure to direct your proposal to their interests, otherwise, it is a waste of their time and yours. Remember there may be a variety of key people within an organization so do not share detailed and potentially overwhelming information with the wrong person. If the person you are pitching to is interested and affiliated with the job you want, but not a direct interviewer, keep your pitch straightforward and simple, and save the pertinent in-depth information for the actual interview.

Avoid using obscure terminology

Your pitch should be accessible and easy to understand, so avoid acronyms or industry jargon. It may be tempting to use sophisticated tech-speak as a way to impress new acquaintances and potential employers, but it may have the opposite effect. If you are looking to get an interview with a specific company or employer, do your research and get acquainted with that company’s specific terminology. Replacing lingo with understandable language will convince an interviewer that you are qualified and comfortable in their environment.

Confidence is everything

Ultimately, if your pitch lacks conviction, it will not be convincing. Present yourself with assuredness, clarity, and purpose of intent. Confidence and cockiness are two different things; you can be self-assured while still maintaining a polite and professional demeanor. Make eye contact while you speak, smile, and deliver your talk with strong and sincere enthusiasm.

 Additional tips:

  • Practice makes perfect, so recite your pitch in front of the mirror or with friends and colleagues. Honest feedback can be a tremendous boost to the quality and content of your pitch, so do not be afraid to ask. Practice in both noisy and quiet places, as chances are you will be pitching in a variety of settings and situations.
  • Be prepared to adjust your pitch to your audience. A pitch to an acquaintance at a BBQ will be different from a pitch to a potential employer. You may have to shorten your pitch or adjust the vocabulary depending on the circumstances.
  • Keep your elevator pitch polished even after you get the job. Pitches are a necessary component of networking, so keep your pitch fine-tuned and ready for client meetings, chance encounters, tradeshows or any occasions that call for promoting your business.

It can be daunting to condense your relevant credentials and qualifications into a 30-60 second pitch, but even the most successful people in the world have to pitch their ideas to prospective clients, investors, and collaborators. Use the pressure as a motivator, and remind yourself the people you are pitching to are interested in you and your line of work. Practice your pitch until you can share it without missing a beat, and take advantage of opportunities to move up in the world.

Sample elevator pitches:

30 Second Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch Examples

Job Search Tips (Part 12): How to give a great elevator pitch

How to answer “Tell Me About Yourself”?

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