6 Mistakes You’re Making in Your Elevator Pitch

Since I moved to Charleston, SC a few months ago, I’ve been pushing myself to get out and network around town. I’ve found it to be a valuable way to get my name out there and build people’s trust by making those personal connections. My elevator pitch is something I’ve needed to have ready at all times. Already I’ve given it too many times to count, and I’ve heard the elevator pitches of many other business owners – a lot of good ones, but also a lot of not-so-good-ones.

Even if your elevator pitch needs some work, it’s not too late to write a good one. I’ve actually created a template on how to write a killer elevator pitch, but before I teach you what to do, there’s a lot we can learn from what not to do…

6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Elevator Pitch

1. Talking For Too Long

With my Elevator Pitch Template, you’ll actually come away with three different pitches for different scenarios. The pitches can be divided into 10-second, 30-second, and 60-second pitches, but in reality, you shouldn’t even come close to taking up that much time for each.

I’ve sat through many “60-second pitches” that ended up lasting more like five minutes. You may believe that the more time you talk, the better promotion you get for your business, but the opposite is true.

Humans have short attention spans when it comes to people selling to them. Especially if you attend networking groups that allot a segment for elevator pitches every week, you really just have a few seconds to captivate them before they start to tune out.

So, keep it as brief and concise as possible. Even if you are allotted 60 seconds to pitch, I challenge you to fit it in 45 seconds. If 30, then shoot for 20.

2. Sounding Too Clever Rather than Clear

Shoot for giving a clear elevator pitch, rather than trying to be cute or clever. I’m all for memorable taglines, but if that tagline does not add clarity to what you offer, then it’s useless. Remember, if people leave the networking event with only a vague idea what you do, you’ve failed to do what you came there to do.

3. Focusing on More Than One Aspect of Your Business.

You’re an entrepreneur – I get it, you’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. As do I. I’m a graphic designer, web developer, publishing consultant, blogger, online t-shirt retailer, author, musician, non-profit founder… but I can’t share all of that with a new business acquaintance. It’s too much, and it would confuse them.

If you share everything you do (or even half of the things you do), you risk the person missing all of it. You see, subconsciously your brain wants to place things (even people) into categories and it doesn’t want to work too hard to do so. If it can’t do that, it shuts down.

What if I introduced myself saying, “Hi, I’m Luke and I’m a graphic designer and web developer, and I also have a side business selling t-shirts. Oh, and also I travel and do humanitarian work in Haiti a few months out of the year, and…”? Many people fall into this trap. All this information is going to overwhelm the other person. At the end of my interaction them, they’re not going to know how to label me, and chances are they’re going to forget me fast. However, if I had just said, “I’m a freelance graphic designer,” they’d probably remember meeting “Luke the graphic designer” or even just “that designer guy” – either way, I made the impression I wanted.

So, decide what your main product or service is and focus your elevator pitch on that. You can market your other services to that person at a later time, but for this first interaction, focus on a single thing.

4. Making Your Business Sound Complicated

The absolute worst thing you can say in your elevator pitch is, “Well, it’s kinda hard to explain, but…” This is might be the most common mistake I see.

Similar to the last point, if you communicate that what you do is hard to explain, then the other person’s brain will quickly decide that it’s not going to even try to understand whatever info follows that statement. Not only that but starting your elevator pitch this way doesn’t instill very much confidence in your service.

Even if your product is a bit hard to explain, there are ways for you to illustrate it confidently, in a simplified way. If they ask more questions, then you can explain the details, but you need to captivate the person’s attention before you can even get to that point.

5. Making the Pitch All About You

I’m sorry to tell you about this, but the people you’re talking to in a business situation don’t care about you. What they do care about is what you can do for them. I’m not trying to be pessimistic here – this is just how we’re wired!

When you introduce yourself or give your elevator pitch, in that moment the business person is gauging whether or not you have something that they need. Sometimes the answer is Yes and sometimes it’s No. A No is ok, as long as it’s an informed No.

In order for this to happen, you need to create your elevator pitch so that it focuses on how your product can make their life better. The mistake a lot of us make is to focus on us and our own accomplishments, but, again, the other person doesn’t really care about that. When you show them how you can benefit them in some way, they will be more likely to inquire more.

6. Just Winging it

If you’re just making it up on the fly, chances are you’re going to make one of these mistakes in your elevator pitch.

Instead, take the time to really think about it and write it down. When you do this, you’ll begin to internalize it so that you’re ready when you need to whip it out!

If you need help with this part, again I’ve created an easy template to help you write it and not make these mistakes. Click here to go to my post, where I’ll explain it in detail.

Comment below to let us know if you’ve made any of these mistakes in the past, and tell us what things you can start implementing right now to improve your elevator pitch!

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4 years ago

Came across this article on your Instagram it’s great. I was struggling with this for about 2 months and out of all the advice I received this was the most honest and straight to the point. I read it and feel like my elevator pitch just created itself. Thanks


4 years ago

Great article and very helpful! Such a valuable resource! Thank you for sharing this!

Dana Rusnak

4 years ago

Focus.. great reminder to keep it simple.. We are so excited about our business and want to tell you all about it. It’s important to remember it about “educating them” and to take it 1 step at a time.

Maybe it would make sense to create 3 pitches.. that could be add-ons at a later time

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