Are Elevator Pitches . . . Dead?

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Andy Lopata is a fellow-columnist at The National Networker where we both write a monthly column.  Andy’s from the UK.  And, while we’re geographically far apart, we’re in close agreement about . . . Elevator Pitches.

Elevator Ptches

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s based upon the 10 – 15 seconds that begins with the time you step into an elevator and the time you step out of one.  Maybe a floor or two. Inside the elevator someone asks, “What do you do?”.

Having a prepared ‘pitch’ or commercial response at the ready can turn such a moment-of-truth with a truly qualified prospect for your services . . . into a highly productive one.

Andy argues that these chance encounters, while prevalent in daily business, have deteriorated into a social convention that is often more polite than productive.  He’s got a good point. Listen to him directly:

Why Elevator Pitches May Not Really Work

If you’re honest about it, do they work for you?  Or, are they merely a social convention that prevents sincere connections from taking place between two people in business?

Lopata contends that delivering a carefully crafted ‘commercial’ has become, for many businesspeople, the sole goal of a ‘new encounter’ rather than using it as the starting point for a meaningful conversation with a stranger.  I tend to agree.

What Does Work?

In a word, ‘Listening‘ –– focusing more on what the other person is sharing with you than on what you say in response to their question: “What do you do?”.


It’s only slightly more difficult to listen.  But it’s a lot more powerful.  And, given that it’s a common complaint about people, being a good listener may be better than being a good pitcher!

1 reply
  1. Erik Blazynski
    Erik Blazynski says:

    Elevator pitches are generally a ride to the ground floor. Your elevator pitch should be one brief sentence IMO.. e.g. I say to people “I help people do things better” it is them incumbent on them to find out how I do that. If they don’t ask then I know that they are just there to harpoon a few whales and are not interested anything else. If they follow up with “that’s great do you have a card?” I can be reasonably sure that I am not giving them one.


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