Tips for Project Managers: The Elevator Pitch - How to Convince People in Just 60 Seconds

Annalena Simonis, Thursday 13 August 2020 | Reading time: 7 min.

You want to convince your boss of a new project idea or change his mind about reallocating resources? Find out how you can do this in just 60 seconds. This article shows you how to prepare a convincing elevator pitch in 5 steps.

Sometimes excessive and detailed presentations about new strategies or project ideas can lead to boredom and disinterest in your superiors. Instead of overloading management with a lot of information, you should convince them with a persuasive short presentation - a good elevator pitch. In this article you will learn how you can successfully convince someone of your idea in just 60 seconds.



What is an elevator pitch?

The basic idea of the elevator pitch as well as the origin of the name is based on the idea of being able to inspire a person you meet in the elevator during the ride together. It is therefore a method of creating a short presentation in 30 seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes to arouse the interest of your audience in your matter. The biggest challenge but the most important key to success is not to present the topic completely in a shortened form, but to get to the point in 60 seconds and to convince your listeners to give you an opportunity for a detailed presentation afterwards.


When is an elevator pitch suitable for projects?

Projects can always lead to situations in which you have to convince your team members or superiors. The best example is the initiation of a new project. The elevator pitch is ideal for presenting a new project idea concisely and memorably in the right place. During the course of a project, you may need to make suggestions for improvement to your managers or ask them for more resources. The elevator pitch is also useful in this situation. Particularly in the case of budget or resource changes, it can be more of a hindrance to talk at length about the topic instead of making a targeted and professional request. The method is also popular at trade fairs and presentations where it is important to attract the attention and interest of the audience.


How do you prepare for an elevator pitch?

A good and convincing elevator pitch is rarely achieved on the spot but requires some preparation. Here’s how to create a memorable short presentation in five steps:

Step 1: What message do you want to convey?

Think carefully about the objective you want to achieve with your presentation. The more your personal attitudes and convictions match the chosen message, the more authentic your presentation will appear. Also think about what image you have of your counterpart and how you can best address him or her.


Step 2: What are the needs of the target person or group?

The aim of the elevator pitch is to address the basic needs of the target person or target group. Find out exactly who the target group is and how much background knowledge they have on your topic. Show your counterpart the essential advantages and the value of your idea. A humorous or emotional approach is often used to surprise the listener with an unexpected positive encounter. The elevator pitch is also particularly well suited to address proposed solutions to problems quickly and to the right person.


Step 3: Develop the right script

To structure your content in a logical and memorable way, we recommend the “AIDA" formula to give your presentation a strong script:

  • A = Attention: Get the attention of your counterpart with a strong introductory sentence. Use exciting statistics, a quotation or a rhetorical question.
  • I = Interest: After you have the necessary attention, arouse interest for your point of view. Think about the unique selling point of your idea and explain how it could satisfy the needs of your audience.
  • D = Desire: Address the unfulfilled wish of your counterpart here. Offer him a customized solution for their problem.
  • A = Action: In the final phase of the elevator pitch ask your listener to take action. For example, arrange a follow-up meeting at which you can explain your concerns in more detail


Step 4: Develop appealing images

In order to help the listener process all the information better in 60 seconds, consider which images or comparisons you can incorporate into your script. This allows facts to remain longer in the listener's memory and you can illustrate more complex relationships better.


Step 5: Practice your elevator throw

In order to avoid wasting the limited time by making mistakes or searching for the right words, it is worth practicing and perfecting the elevator pitch. Practice your presentation in front of the mirror, in front of colleagues or record yourself with your smartphone. Make sure that you stay in the time limit and consider which facial expressions, gestures and body language could support your message. Evaluate your own elevator presentation according to the following criteria: comprehensibility, relevance to the target person, originality and credibility.


At first glance, it may seem easy to perform an elevator pitch, since there are "only" 60 seconds in which to speak. Nevertheless, there are some rules you should follow:

  • Use clear language. Avoid technical vocabulary and complex sentence structures and get to the point quickly with catchy words.
  • Do not rattle off the presentation. It is worth practicing and internalizing the presentation often. But make sure that your presentation is still authentic and natural.
  • Respond actively to your counterpart. Try to observe your listeners as they speak. Also react to their body language and gestures to build trust.

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