Elevator Pitch

From Sustainability Methods
Type Team Size
Collaborative Tools Software Personal Skills Productivity Tools 1 2-10 11-30 30+

What, Why & When

The Elevator Pitch is a precise and short (30-120 second) presentation format. Its name originates from the attempt of salesmen to enthuse potential customers and investors during the duration of an elevator ride - which seldomly took longer than 60 seconds. However, it can be used to 'sell' basically anything - an idea, a product, a company, or one's self. This does not have to happen in a seller-customer-relationship, but can also be of help when you want to make an impression on job interviewers or new acquaintances. It also applies to research, when an idea has to be 'sold' to potential supporters or to colleagues.


  • Make someone exicted about what you have to offer and make them remember you.
  • Learn to describe your idea or person concisely - find out what is most important about it.

Getting started

An Elevator Pitch is not done spontaneously. Instead, it should be well prepared and rehearsed so that it can be acted out whenever necessary. The structure of the Elevator Pitch may follow the AIDA scheme:

  1. Attention: raise attention, for example with an innovative introduction, a question, a controversial statement or a joke.
  2. Interest: raise Interest by highlighting your professional experiences, the product's qualities or the idea's USP. What about your offer is of interest to the listener?
  3. Desire: Make the listener want what you have to offer. Illustrate the benefits of them hiring you or supporting your idea.
  4. Action: A good Elevator Pitch should yield results, so you have to build up to these. Sketch the next steps, include a Call-To-Action and make sure that there is a follow-up conversation to the pitch.

(A very true-to-life) Example:

 "Energy, huh? Hi, my name is John, I just got my Master's degree in Sustainability Science. I've learned about and done research on energy issues for a couple of years now. It is a topic that really fascinates me, and I now intend to work on the science-policy interface to help decision-makers shape the future of this sector. So if you'd like investigate some ideas, I'd be happy to help!"

Some general tips on how to pitch include:

  • Have a first sentence that immediately raises attention and present it with self-confidence.
  • Prioritize what you say - focus on what is important.
  • Relate to the interests of who you want to persuade.
  • Be authentic and enthusiastic.
  • Keep it simple and understandable.
  • Allow for the other to react to what you said.
  • Rehearse the pitch so that you're prepared to present it whenever necessary.

Links & Further reading


For a short example on what to do - and what NOT to do - have a look at this YouTube-Video.

The author of this entry is Christopher Franz.