I was recently asked to review a complex business proposal that contained – supposedly – an elevator pitch.
It came with a plea for help – the writer was struggling to cut it down from a page and a half, to a page, and I had to explain, as kindly as possible, that there was a fundamental problem.
An elevator pitch is not just a shorter, or more succinct version of your narrative. It is literally a summary short enough to tell someone as you ride from one floor to another in a lift – which means you have 20 to 30 seconds. At an average rate of two spoken words per second, that means you have 40 to 60 words. That’s a few lines on a page, not a page or more.
So you have two options – don’t call it an elevator pitch, or get very, very clear about what your most important message is. That’s what an elevator pitch is for.