How to Open an Elevator Pitch

How to Open an Elevator Pitch

The opening of an elevator pitch is by far the most critical piece. A great opening does two things: it frames and it grabs. It should take about twenty seconds—two or three short sentences—before you ease into the body of your pitch.


Your audience knows nothing about you or your company when you start. They need some context, some basic facts before they can appreciate the brilliance of your offering. They need to know "what aisle, what shelf."

Common framing elements:

  • high-level concept pitch

  • kind of company / whatudo

  • what customer

  • what space

  • [optional] defining trends: market shifts, new technology, disruption in your industry


Hit your audience right away with your best stuff. Make them go "wow." Open with an impressive, maybe surprising, true fact. Something that gives you instant credibility and rouses their curiosity. Vivid evidence you're a contender, on the road to greatness.

Common grabbers:

  • traction (customer wow)

  • cred (people wow)

  • technical wow

  • market size wow

  • huge customer value prop

Frame + Grab; Grab + Frame

You could start with a framing statement: "We develop enterprise software for the electrical utility industry." And then add a grabber: "We just signed a contract with PG&E for a $10million pilot project."

Or you could start provocatively, grabbing and framing in one stroke: "The electrical utility industry has a dirty little secret: the smart grid is a dumb mess. Our software gives utility operators an intelligent window on the grid. Some of the biggest utilities in the country are already interested in our solution."