Firstly, 60 seconds may seem very short time to present an idea or a project, or to present yourself in a social or business networking context. However, it is likely that is as much time as you will get, because if you do not have the other person’s interest within that 60 seconds, you will have lost them anyway. That is why this exercise is focused on delivering a persuasive message in what seems like a very short time.

Objective of the elevator pitch

The aim of the elevator pitch is for the listener to say “that is really interesting, could you tell me more about what you are doing/that project”. This then gives you the opportunity to either follow up immediately with more details to fully engage the listener and/or to set up a separate time to meet when you can give the listener the full story to “sell” them the project, or (perhaps) to convince them to offer you a job.

Some suggestions for making a “good” elevator pitch


Any presentation can be regarded as a play with three acts; the introduction, the story, the conclusion or summary.


The aim here is to get the listener’s attention; for example by putting forward a key benefit. For example, “When you lift a glass of water to your lips are you sure that it is safe to drink?” (If you are promoting a device that tests water purity.) By the way, jokes are a very high-risk way to start any presentation, and take real skill and practice to be used properly.

The story

Cover the key points that are important and relevant. Remember that it is unlikely that the listener will remember more than two or three things from the whole presentation or pitch, so there is no point in filling the presentation with details of financials. So, identify what is really important and tell a story that has some “colour”, or some details that bring the story to life. Remember that your aim is to get the person interested in your project, and you can always provide details in response to the listener’s specific questions, either following the pitch, or at a later time.

The summary

Work out what “message” or “call to action” you want the listener to remember from your presentation. It may be appropriate to review the two or three important benefits to the listener, and then say that you would like to make an appointment to discuss the details of how this project will deliver those really important benefits. Try to end with an “uplifting” or purposeful statement (perhaps about how much money this project will make). Do not finish with “thank you”, as this immediately detracts from your message, and suggests that you have not worked out how to finish your presentation.

How to present the pitch

Body language

People form their impressions of a speaker primarily on the basis of how they present, and in particular their body language. Even in the social situation, it is important to stand straight with shoulders back and standing equally on both legs; this gives the impression of being taller, and of being confident and in command of your material. This is especially important for women. It is also useful to remember to use your hands and your body to express your content. For example, when presenting a big opportunity, this can be represented by opening the arms wide to demonstrate size.

Eye contact

Whether in the social environment or when addressing a group, it is important to give each listener the impression that you are talking to them, and not to a large room. You can give this impression by scanning the group so that you are looking at each person from time to time. When talking to a single person, it is important to maintain good eye contact without appearing to be aggressive.

Use your voice effectively

Make sure that people can hear and understand you without any difficulty. This may mean that you have to project your voice so that everyone in a group can hear you, and speak clearly and a little more slowly than usual to make sure that others can understand every word. This also makes you appear to be more confident and purposeful. It is good to practice a pitch with a friend at the other end of a large room who you can then tell you whether they can hear and understand you easily. Also, remember that variation in tone and speed can make a presentation more interesting and engaging.

Give your presentation, do not read it

At all costs, avoid reading a presentation. It takes a lot of skill and practice to read effectively and make the presentation interesting. For most people, reading “flattens” the voice, makes it hard to maintain eye contact with listeners, makes it hard to use the hands for interesting and engaging body language, and (most importantly) gives the impression that you do not know your material. After all, if you cannot remember what to say for only a minute, how familiar are you with your project or your argument?

Plan and practice your elevator pitch

Go through your elevator pitch with a friend as your audience (at the other end of a large room) to get used to this activity, and to get friendly feedback. Make sure that your presentation fits into the time available; it is not good form to give a presentation that is much shorter than expected (that suggests that there is not much to say about either the project or yourself). It is definitely not good form to go over time with any presentation, as this suggests that you are not well-organised, and have not worked out what is really important. Everything improves with practice, so it is important to take every opportunity to present (particularly to groups).

Your personal elevator pitch

It is a very good idea to plan and practice a personal elevator pitch that you can use in a social or a business networking context, when someone standing next to you says "and what do you do?" You might answer along the following lines:

I am right now doing a Bachelor of ... at UniSA, and I am confident that this will give me a really good start in a business career.

I am doing/have done some really interesting and entrepreneurship courses that use leading-edge teaching methods based on developing good teamwork and we have used real case studies such as  innovative products that are not in our local market, like a high-tech wine scanner. I learned a lot of very practical and relevant things like working successfully in teams with people I have never met before, learning how to make a business more creative and innovative, and ...

I have also been involved in ... (perhaps some community or common interest group), and this has given me the chance to test the things that I have learned in practice. I also have a hobby (specify) that also has helped me to better understand how to apply what I have learned in my degree.

At this stage, I am particularly interested in working in ( a particular industry or sector) where I can help a business to be more effective and competitive, and to develop my knowledge and personal interests. Do you have any contacts or experience in that (industry or sector)? (That is a purposeful way to finish that gives the other person an opening to tell you what they do - and they might have some useful contacts).

Last modified: Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 2:53 PM