How to give a 30-sec pitch

You are in a bar after a long day of work, the place is half empty. You are enjoying the ambience and go to the counter to order another drink. You look around and notice a person who could be defined as a “white collar” worker, upon closer inspection you realize is one of top angel investors in the country. Or maybe you are at one hotel on a business trip and while returning to your room, you encounter a potential lead in the elevator.

What’s your next move?

In this era, where each conversation holds the potential of being a stepping stone for your career, can you allow yourself to be unprepared? “The problem is that too few people are ready to deal with such a situation. They haven’t considered what they would do, much less prepared something to say or rehearsed it.” (O'Leary, 2008)

From startup owners, small and medium enterprises, established business to multicorporate, brief but comprehensive communication is welcome and preferred. Conversely, for the elevator pitch itself, you need extensive time and preparation to deliver a sublime presentation in the least number of seconds.

What are common pitch mistakes?

The most common misconception about this type of pitch is the goal: entrepreneurs approach potential leads and investors with one thought in mind: “conclude the deal”. But while this is the ultimate desired outcome, the elevator pitch is nothing more than a powerful introduction.


“An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea, product, service, project, person or other solution to a problem and is designed to just get a conversation started” (O'Leary, 2008)

Let’s go back to the elevator’s scene. You press floor n.6 and they politely ask you to press floor n.5.


How do I begin the conversation?

You: the background and expertise.

It all starts with enthusiasm, a brief description of who you are and what you do, refrain from reciting your LinkedIn profile. The advice is to brainstorm a powerful sentence which makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. After all, if you are not excited how can the audience be?


They know who you are, but they have yet to connect. Use a story!

What is the origin of your startup’s idea?

Depict a challenge you faced in the past or an experience engraved in your brain.

What is the problem your company is trying to solve?

Emphasize the issue at hand with the current market/players.


While your experience may not be an isolated case, your solution must be individual.

Explain your unique selling point.

Outline your product, service or idea what sets your business apart.

In which other aspects do you have an advantage?

Portray your working style, attitude and other personal techniques you use.


You have concluded on what YOU wanted to say, let them take over the talking.

Attract and engage your audience.

Remember that this is a conservation and therefore mutual curiosity is imperative. Ask your prospect about their profession or current way of handling the discussed situation.


Now that you are aware of the concept, formulate your lines. James Harrington and Frank Voel can be of help with “The Innovation Tools Handbook”:

  • First, write down all that comes up in your mind.

  • Then cut the jargon and details. Make strong short and powerful sentences. Eliminate unnecessary words.

  • Connect the phrases to each other. Your elevator pitch has to flow naturally and smoothly.

  • Memorize key points and practice.

  • Have you really answered the key question of your listener: What's In It For Me?

  • Create different versions for different business situations of your elevator pitch


Still unsure on what to say?

An example is worth more than a thousand theories. Read our elevator pitch (aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs) compiled thanks to our speech history and prompts from Mindtools:

“Hello, my name is Horiold Steven Pango.

I am a creator, writer and communicator at Present Your Startup.

Upon graduation, I have seen countless friends with brilliant ideas fail to acquire funding, forcing them to give up their ambitions.

My company develops high-value programs and organizes competition pitch events to ensure successful market access to revolutionary companies.

Unlike other accelerators, we deliver customized and concrete instructions. With our help, participants have collected over 5 million euro so far.

So, how do you prepare to engage investors and venture capital funds?

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Written by Steven Pango