How to write an elevator pitch

The ideal elevator pitch takes less than 10 seconds to repeat, and is used to intrigue whoever you’re talking with. The elevator pitch is not to sell a product or service, but to introduce yourself and your organization. If you have a good elevator pitch, the people who you speak to will either be interested and ask for more information, or they will know that they aren’t interested in what you have to offer.

 

When establishing an elevator pitch for yourself or your organization, start with a couple paragraphs describing the brand of your organization. When writing out these paragraphs, try to answer the following questions:


  • what do you do

  • how do you do it

  • for whom

  • what makes you different

  • why you do what you do


By doing this, you will be answering the most common questions that anyone not familiar with your organization would ask. People are deciding whether they would want to work with you and your organization from the beginning of your interaction. Because of this, you have to put your best foot forward from the get go, and let them know what you do and what you’re about.

For example, a fictional organization that helps recent immigrants with language classes, temporary and transitional housing and employment could write:


The Immigrant Support Group (ISG) helps recent immigrants with housing immediately after they arrive in our country. We help them get settled into local communities and find others who have had similar experiences. We also provide language classes for both adults and their children. We also have multiple career counselors on staff to help recent immigrants establish their credentials and find jobs in order to be able to sustain themselves and their families.

The Immigrant Support Group helps immigrants from first arrival until stability, which could last from 1 year to 5 years. We are the only organization in our city that provides both housing and language classes for recent immigrants. We help immigrants because our founder and most of our staff have immigrated and believe in freedom of mobility as a basic human right.


Yours can be longer, but I wouldn’t recommend going any shorter than this, as we need enough information to start reorganizing and refining. If you don’t have enough to work with, you will have a weaker elevator pitch.

Now that you have a couple paragraphs written about your organization, you have a great description of the branding of your organization. You will want to keep a copy of these paragraphs because, they will be useful for explaining your organization when people ask you for more detail after you tell them your elevator pitch.

Now, we’re going to shorten the key elements of those paragraphs down to a pair of sentences. Start by highlighting the most important parts of the description you wrote earlier. Try to limit yourself highlighting keywords or groups of 3-4 words.


The Immigrant Support Group (ISG) helps recent immigrants with housing immediately after they arrive in our country. We help them get settled into local communities and find others who have had similar experiences. We also provide language classes for both adults and their children. We also have multiple career counselors on staff to help recent immigrants establish their credentials and find jobs in order to be able to sustain themselves and their families.

The Immigrant Support Group helps immigrants from first arrival until stability, which could last from 1 year to 5 years. We are the only organization in our city that provides both housing and language classes for recent immigrants. We help immigrants because our founder and most of our staff have immigrated and believe in freedom of mobility as a basic human right.


From the words that are now highlighted, try to find a way to link different keywords within the same sentence. From the example above, “from first arrival until stability” establishes the same idea as “to be able to sustain themselves and their families.” These two ideas could be combined by saying “ISG supports them until they are able to sustain themselves and their families.”

From this list of keywords, you start to craft your elevator pitch. You don’t need to use all the highlighted words, but they should be your guide for the next section. Remember, you’re still answering all the questions from the beginning. What do you do? How do you do it? For whom? What makes you different? Why do you do what you do?

For the Immigrant Support Group, I would emphasize that the end goal of the organization is that immigrants will be able to support themselves. The goal of self-sufficiency would inform each of the programs that they run, therefore it can serve as the centre of the elevator pitch.

Here is an example of how the Immigrant Support Group could make an elevator pitch.


The Immigrant Support Group believes that freedom of mobility is a basic human right. Because of that we help enable recent immigrants to support themselves and their families by providing language classes, career counseling, and housing in local communities.


This elevator pitch explains clearly what the organization does, for whom, how, and what their main goal is. They establish that they are different because they are helping immigrants support themselves after a move because they believe in freedom of mobility.

This framework can help you establish your first elevator pitch, or to refine one that you’re already using. Feel free to come back after a couple of weeks to see if you can make your pitch better.