Blue colored pencils - Mastermind Groups - unleashing creativity in teams

‘A crisp elevator pitch isn’t useful just for times when you’re job hunting. There are often opportunities to shape the way you are perceived by others, but most people miss them.’ Dorie Clark

Like it or not self-promotion seems to be a necessity in our hyper fast, connected, complex and competitive workplace landscape. Success and opportunity, whether it be for a start-up, career progression, negotiating a raise, raising funds for your organisation, etc. seems to necessitate some form of self-promotion to stand out.

Women and self-promotion

And to complicate matters, the research tell us, women do not typically enjoy self-promotion. Women are not only subjected to the ‘likability conundrum’ but also female gender norms that dictate women should be more focused on promoting others whereas masculine norms provide the space for men to self-promote and be generally more assertive.

I can assure you that this plays out time and time again in my coaching practice. In fact, when coaching female clients and it comes time to discuss personal branding and self-promotion, in most cases, it starts out as the proverbial pulling teeth! As I have mentioned in my previous leadership development post, whilst many women find it difficult to talk about their accomplishments (which clearly begins with an inventorying exercises) they often report back that once they have done it, it is actually an incredibly useful exercise in their professional lives. Today we are going to look at one tool for self-promotion, namely the famous elevator pitch.

The benefits

Preparing and perfecting an elevator pitch serves many purposes from communicating a strong personal and/or leadership brand, promoting your business, product and/or service, to perfecting interview skills or helping you get a raise. Creating and presenting an elevator pitch has benefits beyond the walls within the workplace. Its firstly important to address in this article what one is, what makes a good pitch, some practical tips that you can put into place for your own and lastly an example elevator pitch.

Tall elevator - Creating your perfect elevator pitch

What’s an elevator pitch? offers background on why an elevator pitch is called an elevator pitch –

‘A personal elevator pitch is a quick summary of yourself. It’s named for the time it takes to ride an elevator from bottom to top of a building (roughly 30 seconds or 75 words).’

Makes sense, right? However, it’s important to remember that it’s not about how many words you can squeeze into that space of time. It’s important to remember that it needs to be precise, succinct and offering something.

In an article by Geoffrey James contributor for, it discusses what an elevator pitch is and how to write one.

‘The original idea behind the elevator pitch was to have something that you’d say to a potential customer whom you happen to meet by chance. While the “elevator” scenario is a bit absurd, there’s no question that chance conversations can result in business opportunities. Bob Carr, the CEO of Heartland Payment Systems–one of the largest credit card processors in the United States–once told me how he sold the idea for his new business to an investor whom he met at a wedding. A real “elevator pitch” presents you and your offering in a casual, socially acceptable manner. That means no sales pitch. Period. Instead, you introduce yourself and your firm in the natural context of a social conversation.’

Keep it conversational and real. An elevator pitch is most definitely not a sales pitch of how much information you can squeeze into a short frame of time.

What makes a good elevator pitch?


Richard Branson says –

“… the first step toward delivering a great pitch is to keep it human, since far too many presentations and speeches can turn artificial and wooden quite quickly. Let your passion shine through by being yourself and allowing your points to come across naturally. Use humour to connect with your audience and demonstrate your creativity.”

5 Tips on how to create your own elevator pitch


It’s important to vary your pitch dependent on the situation you’re in and whom you’re talking to. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes and it doesn’t matter that it may take several attempts to find one you prefer and that also sounds authentic and natural.  

1) Know why you’re wanting to creating the pitch: the goal

It’s important to know why you are wanting to creating your pitch. Is it for an interview? New clients? Having an answer ready to the ‘what do you do?’ question…Remember your pitch is likely to change slightly depending on the particular goal at hand. Some questions to think about –

  • What has motivated you to prepare a pitch? How do you plan to use the pitch? When and where?
  • Whatever the reason be clear on ‘why’.

2) What is it that you do?

A good place to start your pitch is to introduce your product/service/company and what it is that it does. Quickly identify pain points that you resolve and if you have one – offer a statistic. According to Entrepreneur Europe, “an elevator speech should convey the essence of what you do, not just be a descriptive phrase. It should stress the benefits of what you provide, not the features. In marketing, they call this “selling the sizzle, not the steak.” Some examples –

In essence, you want to summarise the benefits (not the features) of what you do. Remember: you want to communicate the benefits of your solution down to as few words as possible. You should be able to describe your solution at a high level in just a few sentences or bullet points. 

Pink umbrella standing out from gray ones - Be unique in your elevator pitch

3) How unique is your USP?  

By now we are all familiar with marketing and pitch terminology such as your ‘Unique Selling Point’ or UPS. Well your pitch needs to be unique as does what you’re saying. Take time in working out what makes you, your company, your idea, unique? Put that into your pitch.

  • What is unique about you, your business, your services?

Example I have a strong academic background so I am familiar with research and evidence

4) Connect and engage

Prepare an open-ended question to connect and engage with your audience. Ask them something which means they become involved in your conversation.

  • How are you showing up meetings?
  • How are you supporting your people to give their best?
  • How do you want to lead?

5) Putting the pitch together – a couple of examples  

Example 1 – an example from
MindTools;  “My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This means that senior managers can spend time on other important tasks. “Unlike other similar companies, we visit each organisation to find out exactly what people need. This means that, on average, 95 percent of our clients are happy with the first version of their app. “So, how does your organisation handle the training of new people?”

Example 2 – my try…  “I help international development professionals lead so that they can have even greater personal and social impact. Given my experience in development and my access to cutting-edge management and leadership research, I work with these professionals to develop targeted and doable interventions to help them achieve more and flourish in their assignments. How are you developing your leadership so that you can achieve more personal and social impact? How does your organization develop its leaders to deliver even more social impact?”

Red curtains in a theatre - Practice your elevator pitch - important skill for global development professionals

+ Practice

Your body language carries an important message as much as your pitch. Practice regularly with a friend or colleague or in front of a mirror. Find a rhythm to your pitch, think of your tone and whether you sound positive, excited or enthused. Lastly remember not to talk too fast and control any apprehension with breathing.

The way you deliver your elevator pitch and what you say are equally as important as one another. Communication should be natural, just like a conversation. – Boost your chances of success and opportunistic possibilities – by creating your own elevator pitch. I’d love to hear your pitches. Get in touch and let me know how you get on….

Stuck in a professional rut? Do you need help crafting and implementing your own elevator pitch?

If you feel that you or your organisation would benefit from help with communication such as an elevator pitch, leadership development, including coaching and mentoring, please get in touch and let me help you and your business be the best you can be.

Don’t forget to check out my coaching programme –Women’s Leadership Coaching – For Women in Development – specifically designed for women working in global development. Please feel free to like and share my posts. Contact, link and follow me.

Email me:

Visit my website: 

LinkedIn: Palena Neale

Twitter: @PalenaNeale

Additional resources for your own research and interest:

The art of the elevator pitch by Harvard Business Review:

How to write a better elevator pitch by

Crafting an elevator speech by MindTools:

How women can develop- and promote- their personal brand: