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Ten Second Elevator Speech
July 29, 2021
The Fundamental Basic Step in Marketing

If you can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying, I’m not investing
and I’m not interested.

An elevator speech according to Wikipedia, is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition. When meeting a person or group for the first time this typically is your first marketing opportunity. Your elevator speech can be used over and over and in many varied circumstances so why not make your speech GREAT for first impressions?

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card or a scheduled meeting. Elevator pitches should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain what makes you – or your organization, product, or idea – unique.

The objective is to present your value proposition, your unique selling proposition (USP), in a persuasive manner that will first catch attention and second engage your listener. This article is written as if your audience is your customer and this will be your basic elevator speech. Your basic speech will need a few versions, a separate version for each unique audience:

  • Investors
  • Partners
  • Suppliers
  • Competitors
  • Employees

Be aware that the USP probably needs revision for each type of audience because an effective pitch is not about you but about your listener. The first axiom in marketing is KNOW YOUR MARKET, which is the listener in this case. You may need a USP for each unique listener.


Phase One

Your most critical task in the development of your pitch is the determination of the Unique Selling Proposition. Describe our USP in 50 words in detail in writing. Then reduce it to 25 words. Reduce it to 12 words. Try seven words to achieve an effective but brief and hard hitting USP. To get started here is a typical fill the blank exercise that may help in your initial writing.

I am a ____________________

Who works with ___________

Who want to ______________

In order to ________________

I can do for you ____________


Phase Two

Build your message from the ground up in a time oriented road map starting with a good “headline” (attention grabber). The speech experts say the first two minutes of a speech is Cognitive Hallowed Ground. If true then your pitch needs a great headline or hook in the first ten seconds The objective of the headline is to have your audience want to listen to the next twenty-five seconds differently, more intently than they would have otherwise.

First five seconds is most critical. Find a HOOK to get attention. Different hooks will be needed for different audiences. A major advantage if your hook is the same as your USP.

Next ten seconds is the marketing features and benefits

  • Who Matters
  • Value Proposition
  • Sub points that are important (perhaps limited to three)

Next fifteen seconds is to get your listeners to want to know more

  • Provide backup for each of the sub points mentioned above.

Engage with a question. Your call to action.

If after engagement there is more time you will need additional follow on material.

Try to keep a business card or other take-away item with you, which helps the other person remember you and your message. Cut out any information that doesn’t absolutely need to be there.


TEN Steps for an Effective Elevator Speech

1. Value Proposition. Can you develop your USP into 7 words. Start with 50 and keep reducing and improving effectiveness with each version.

2. Have a HOOK to grab the listener. Can your USP be an effective HOOK?

3. Keep it SHORT and keep it natural. This should be a conversation not an infomercial.

4. Write it down. Rewrite is many times until it looks good. Read it as we tend to write more formally than speak. Natural is better. Rewrite it for natural speech.

5. Practice extensively in front of a mirror and family until it sounds good. The better you know the pitch the more effective it will be. Review feedback.

6. Size your company for your listener. Provide some idea of scale for comparison.

7. Maintain eye contact continuously and be aware of body language.

8. Eliminate such phrases as “you know” and “uh”. Scratch any words that do not contribute to the listener understanding and comprehension.

9. Develop a Follow Up Plan for all of your encounters.

10. Search the web for tips and techniques for an elevator speech. A sample:

Your Business Card

It is normal and usually expected that you will provide a business card at the conclusion of the conversation. Review your business card in light of your new elevator speech. Consider adding your USP and/or your HOOK to the card. Because of the change to mobile technology it is suggested you consider adding the QR Code to drive your customers to your web site.

A free QR Code generator can be found at

SOURCE: Walter Williams, SCORE Counselor Revised May 2019

The material in this publication is based on work supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration under cooperative agreement SBAHG-04-S-0001. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The information contained in this publication is believed to be accurate and authoritative but is not intended to be relied on as legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. You should consult with a qualified professional adviser to discuss issues unique to your business. Copyright 1990. SBA retains an irrevocable, worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, unlimited license to use this copyrighted material.
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