An elevator is just an elevator, right?
There are different elevator types (cable and hydraulic) and thousands of different designs. Each elevator serves a specific purpose and wouldn’t necessarily work in a different setting, business, or building. Just as each elevator is different, each elevator pitch should be different as well. Your pitch has a specific purpose, goals, and target market that is probably different than most if not all other pitches.
What is the Right Length of an Elevator Pitch?
-The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) hosts the National Elevator Pitch Competition which gives competitors 90 seconds to pitch their business or idea.
- Inc.’s GROWCO Conference hosts an Enrich Your Pitch Contest that also uses a 90 second pitch format.
-The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) hosted the 2012 Elevator Pitch Challenge which gave teenagers a total of 60 seconds to pitch their business.
-For the PitchJam ‘Pitch Map’, the result is a basic but succinct 15 second elevator pitch.
The answer is, it depends! This is probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but it is the correct one.
The length of your pitch completely depends on your audience and not on your business. The elevator pitch is not supposed to be a formal presentation or give someone all of the information about your business or idea. It does have to be attention grabbing, intriguing, and result in the audience wanting more information. Cramming too much into your pitch can be dangerous as you will often lose the attention of your intended target. Here are some examples of acceptable situations to give pitches of a certain length.
When 90 Seconds+ is appropriate
A pitch longer than 90 seconds is usually only appropriate in a formal setting. During an introduction or while networking, you will want a much shorter pitch. Situations where this is appropriate include: competitions, presentations, multi-level marketing home shows, video pitch, or when pitching to an investor.
60 Second Pitches
Pitches lasting 60 seconds are often too long unless you have a dedicated audience who is already committed to hearing about you, your company, or what product or service you offer. Initial interest in what you are offering should be confirmed before giving a 60 second pitch. This pitch is often perfect in response to someone asking to hear more after an initial 15 second pitch/introduction. Situations where this is appropriate include: a second meeting with an interested party, website welcome video, explaining business to a small group of people, or explaining business to a friend or an established connection.
30 Seconds or Less
The 30 seconds or less pitch includes pitches from just a few seconds to half a minute. These pitches are often a person’s or group of people’s first interaction with the person, business, product or service. This pitch is also what most networking interactions fall into. The pitch would usually include who you are, what you do for a living, and why you are passionate about what you do. Situations where this is appropriate include most types of introductions and initial meetings.
Timing is very important. You need to get your point across without losing your audiences’ attention.Keep it simple and engage your audience no matter what length you decide to make your pitch.