Elevator Pitch Tips & Tricks: How to Keep it Short

So, we know an elevator pitch needs to be short. A minute or less, ideally. Does that sound all but impossible? I work with lots of mission-driven individuals who are so passionate about their work, and they want to share everything about what they’re doing. And it’s tempting – if you capture someone’s time, shouldn’t you take advantage of it? But I promise, creating a captivating and short elevator pitch is going to serve you much better.


Easier said than done? Here are a few tips to help you pare back your words.

Use adjectives sparingly.

We believe our stories are the very best – and they are. But glorifying them with a plethora of floral adjectives does not do your pitch due justice. It’s easy to lose your listener in a sea of descriptive sentences. To boot, being overly effusive about your work can be a red flag to some, who may take you less seriously as a result.

These last three sentences include several adjectives. Too many for an elevator pitch. So when you’ve written your pitch, take a closer look and prune it – it will serve you well on length and approachability.

Use simple verbs

It’s really tempting to use complex verbs when you’re writing something for public speaking. You want to sound smart, so complexity is a good idea, right? Wrong. Simple is better, and not just because it helps you keep your elevator pitch short. It also allows the listener to follow what you’re saying; with longer verbs, you run the risk of losing someone along the way.

Here are a few verbs that are overused in the mission-driven industry. If you find yourself using them, think about whether the simpler option could be more direct. And I know you might say: I’ve used the word influence already – I need a synonym! No, if you’re in your elevator pitch and you’re saying influence more than once, you’re probably repeating the same idea too many times. Remember, keep it short, and keep the listener with you!

  • leverage – instead of influence
  • utilize – instead of use
  • seed – instead of start
  • catalyze – instead of make
  • galvanize – instead of inspire action

Cut out phrases like “This allows us to” and “in order to.”

They’re often just filler and don’t add anything to what you’re saying. Instead, it prevents you from speaking in an active, emphatic voice. Can you see the difference between these two phrases?

-       Parent involvement allows us to engage our school community.

-       Parent involvement engages our school community.

The last phrase is decisive and offers a clear picture of what you’re doing. The first one isn’t incorrect, but it is longer and more likely to lose your listener.