Craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Do you find yourself struggling to tell others what makes your business so great, in a way that is succinct and clear? Perhaps you’ve left a networking function, luncheon, or even a social event wishing you had been able to find the words that could have helped formed a new business connection. If so, it’s time to work on your elevator pitch! Though this sales tactic has been around for decades, it’s still an effective business tool worth perfecting: In less than a minute, it arms you with a go-to tool that tells people what makes your business unique --and more importantly, makes them want to know more. 

Here’s how to do it.

Identify your mission statement.If you’ve ever written a formal business plan, you’ve probably developed a mission statement, which is a short snippet, no more than a few sentences long, that describes what your company does, and what it’s all about. But the vision you had before opening your business probably differs from some of the realities you learned firsthand—about your own product, industry, and the overall marketplace. If you’ve already written a mission statement, consider in what ways it has evolved or changed. If you’ve never written one, start by asking yourself the following: Why am I in this business? Who is my customer? Why do they buy from me? What image do I want to project?   Write honest answers to these questions, as briefly as possible. This will serve as the driving foundation to your elevator pitch.

Spice up your statements.Your mission statement helps you identify the key points you want to convey in an elevator pitch, but, by nature, it’s cut and dry, and  won’t serve as a natural conversation starter. Think about creative language that can inject into your mission statement to would add life to a conversation. When describing your customer base, are there colorful adjectives, or maybe a celebrity comparison you could use to paint a picture in the listeners mind? Likewise, if your product is easier to understand visually than verbally, try to “ground” the listener with familiar comparisons.

Make it about the listener. Because an effective elevator pitch is less than a minute long, it needs to be an attention grabber.  The best way to interest a person? Talk about them! Chris Westfall, author of The NEW Elevator Pitch says the secret to a pitch that is both effective and memorable is striking a personal chord in the listener. Consider the elevator pitches of politicians: Most have impressive education and professional backgrounds, but they rarely tout those accomplishments. Instead, their focus is what they’ll do for the listener. Your elevator pitch is no different.  Form a succinct way to describe yourself professionally and personally, but consider unexpected twists that will interest the listener, and ideally, stimulate additional conversation.  Once you’ve delivered your pitch, ask them an open-ended question (that can’t be answered “yes” or “no”), and let the conversation unfold.

Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer turned stay at home working mom, yoga instructor and freelance writer covering personal finance, small business,consumer issues, work-life balance and health/wellness topics for ForbesWoman, Minyanville , SheKnows , Mint , Intuit Small Business, Investopedia and several other online properties. She is also the founder of Wellness On Less and Om for Mom prenatal yoga. Stephanie wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie (, an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.