Elevator Pitch Mistakes that Keep Your Career on the Ground

elevator pitch mistakesIn this post, successful entrepreneurs offer tips on how to avoid some common elevator pitch mistakes. Mistakes that just might keep your career from ever getting off the ground…

Sometimes getting ahead in this world isn’t about climbing the corporate ladder. Sometimes it’s about knowing how to use the elevator.

The elevator pitch… that is.

Whether your starting your own business or applying for your dream job, your elevator pitch can make all the difference. So we asked members of the Young Entrepeneur Council (YEC) this question:

What is one common mistake to avoid when delivering an elevator pitch?

Let their helpful answers take your career to the next level!


Starting with Your Name

Don’t say who you are or the name of your company at the beginning. You need to catch their attention with what you are currently working on, and then leave them with a name or nickname that they can search for online later.

Kevin Xu, Mebo International



Swaying and Moving Your Hands

When delivering a pitch or any type of presentation, plant your feet firmly on the ground, about hip-width apart. Be mindful of swaying and moving your hands, which can make you come across as nervous and lacking confidence.

Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World



Talking About the Technology

Founders love to talk about their technology when they should instead focus on the pain that their technology solves and the value that it creates for their customers. If you hook the audience with a searing pain point, a compelling value proposition, an attractive market and a credible team that can execute, then you will get the follow up to discuss questions they have about the technology.

Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar

Talking Fast

Elevator pitches are supposed to be quick, but not because you rattle off as much information as you can in as little time as possible. A good elevator pitch is concise because of how well-thought-out it is. When you slow down to deliver your pitch, you’ll sound much wiser and give your audience time to absorb what you’re saying.

Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc



Elevator pitches need to be short and convey your business to an audience. I’ve noticed when people pitch me ideas they ramble on and on and don’t actually say anything relevant. The best practice I got was during TechCrunch Disrupt launching a product five years ago. TechCrunch put us through the ringer and they helped us define what we wanted to say and how to say it concisely without rambling.

Andy LeffElectricity Labs/Warp Speed Labs

Starting With Features and Benefits Rather Than the Problem

A lot of people start going into the features and benefits of the device when they should really be capturing the attention of the listener by explaining the problem. They call this strategy “turning the knife,” where you get the listener to understand and relate to the problem emotionally, then you position your product or solution as the unique and correct way of solving that problem.

Andy Karuza, FenSens


Sounding Desperate

It’s easy to get lost in the passion you have for your project, and oftentimes that passion, coupled with the opportunity being presented to you, can lead to desperation. It’s important to have enthusiasm, but don’t allow desperation to bleed into your pitch. Investors and potential partners can respect a passionate owner, but desperation almost always has the opposite effect.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker


Forgetting to Leverage Social Proof

It’s human nature to triangulate relevance from things we’re familiar with. Whether it be investors, prominent customers or press you’ve received, dropping these in tasteful ways will make the audience take you more seriously. These social cues make the listener draw on these associations and connect them with what you’re doing, enhancing the overall pitch.

Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed


Starting the Speech With “I Am…”

Starting off on this note will usually generate a “so what” reaction, causing your audience to check out. Your elevator pitch should be engaging and compelling enough to leave the listener wanting to know even more about you. Try instead to start the speech off with an interesting hook, quote or question that initially locks in their attention.

Stanley Meytin, True Film Production


Not Making It Matter to Your Audience

WIIFM is an old sales jargon term for “what’s in it for me?”. While silly sounding, it’s fundamentally on point. If you don’t engage your audience during an elevator pitch enough to figure out why they should care, that is typically the end of the conversation. I like to say I help ____ to _____, as an example. Make it digestible for your audience.

Darrah Brustein, darrah.co


Getting Lost in Jargon

The best elevator pitches use simple words and communicates the benefits of your organization. If your elevator pitch uses words like “facilitates,” “synergies,” “empowering,” or other overused words, re-craft your pitch. What does your organization do for its users?

Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.



For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Business Collective!


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