The Elevator Speech Worksheet
You can use this worksheet as a paying or sponsored client, or as a guest.
This fill-in-the-blanks worksheet is based on the Elevator Speech Framework, a structured approach that enables you to master any speaking situation with confidence.
When you submit this form (by clicking the blue submit button on the bottom of this page), we will email you a copy of the script you will have built on this page, plus a Word doc version of the framework, so that you will have them in your inbox for future use.
If you have scheduled an Elevator Speech Training session, we strongly recommend that you fill out the worksheet below no later than 12 hours before your appointment to create a 3-minute draft pitch about your project or organization.
If you're not a client, you're still welcome to use this page at no cost to generate your pitch. Please know that we'll get a copy of it (and we may not be able to resist contacting you with improvement suggestions).
You can read an example pitch here
If you start filling in the blanks below and then need to pause and resume later, please scroll down to the bottom of this form and click the "save and continue later" button. Saving and submitting the worksheet will work whether or not you stay within the suggested word count limits.
The structure of the framework enables you to master any speaking situation confidently.
Please enter your email address to the right.
Please describe your speaking scenario by inserting your answers below the questions inside this form field.
The more realistic and relevant you make your scenario, the more useful your Elevator Speech Training will be to you.
Example: “Hello, my name is Jane Doe.”
Example: “I’m the CEO of XYZ, the largest so-and-so organization in so-and-so.”
This is not just about saying who you are but also about "pegging" yourself and your organization (if appropriate). If your organization has a special ranking in some important regard (size; being the first or only one of its kind; the oldest etc.), mention it–briefly–here to get more attention.
1. Use conversational language that a 14-year-old would understand. Don’t just copy and paste the mission statement on your website. Avoid expert language.
2. Say what you’re trying to achieve in the beginning of the sentence. I.e., do not lead with the processes you use to accomplish your goals. Keep this to one or two short phrases along the lines of “Our goal is... We do this by...”
Example: “Our goal is making sure babies everywhere will thrive and live healthy lives. We do this by removing toxic chemicals from the foods they eat and the things they touch.”
4 – Urgency
Prime your listeners by beginning with a brief dramatic signpost phrase (a heads-up about what you will say next). For example: “Listen, we’re facing the challenge of our lifetime!” (Feel free to adapt this but keep it a brief sentence; right after it, pause for a moment.)
Then, summarize the challenge/opportunity in one or two brief sentences. For example: "Climate change is threatening the very survival of humanity."
Give a couple concrete and shocking examples or data points for the challenge, ideally with a perspective of change over time or comparison to what is normal so they have meaning. For example: "For example: The last 7 years have been the warmest on record. Dozens of species of plants and animals currently go extinct each day — nearly 1,000 times the natural rate."
Follow the example with a sentence that begins with “It makes me feel [use an action-oriented emotion like “deeply concerned.” Avoid conveying stifling feelings like “depressed” or “helpless”]
For example: "It's upsetting and makes me deeply concerned."
Wrap up the “urgency segment” with a sentence using the pattern of “What’s at stake here is A, and ultimately, B!” Make B bigger than A to form a crescendo.
Don’t just repeat your mission but take it to a higher level. Give people goosebumps. Use a positive and not a negative. I.e., at stake is what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid.
For example: “What’s at stake here is strong and resilient communities, and ultimately, the future of our country.”
5 – Solution
Use another signpost phrase, so your listeners know that you’re shifting to talking about the solution. For example: “So, here’s what we do at XYZ organization [pause].”
Summarize your solution in a brief sentence to avoid information overload. For example, if you work in three areas, say: “Our work falls into three buckets: A, B, and C.” Avoid complexity!
Now, articulate your “secret sauce,” i.e., what is unique about your approach, what gives you an edge, and what makes you different from similar organizations
Please make sure it is unique and not generic.
Often, a combination of two or three (no more) ingredients can create uniqueness.
For example: "So, we have a unique secret weapon. It's that we are both, policy advocates and actual builders of affordable housing."
Here another example: "So, we have a unique secret weapon. It's the incredible diversity of expertise we have assembled under one roof."
Give your secret sauce a name to make it more real, for example, "Community Impact Model". Instead of "model" you can use nouns like effect, paradigm, playbook, framework, etc.
Now, tell a specific story about an actual situation where your secret sauce created a positive outcome. A common mistake at this point is giving just another summary. Instead, offer concreteness: Begin the story with a dramatic obstacle. Show how your secret sauce overcomes it and creates a happy ending. Add "signs of realness." For example, take listeners to a concrete moment in time. Or feature a specific person, with a name, and maybe even a description of what they looked and sounded like at that point.
Begin with words like “here’s a story that shows how well our approach works.”
IMPORTANT: Please make sure the ingredients of your secret sauce show up clearly in your story to make it genuinely illustrative of the power of your unique approach.
4. After telling your story, finish with a sentence like: “This story illustrates how our unique approach of [doing xyz] makes all the difference.”
6 – Validation
Instill confidence by listing past successes, well-known partners, etc. Use a signpost phrase like: “We have had consistent impact using this approach, for example, ...”
Keep this brief. Think of it as ticking off three quick success metrics using the fingers of your hand. Do not tell another story here.
A common mistake at this point is being vague. Instead, mention concrete numbers or use a quote. For example: "Over the last three years we've worked with 25 school districts, including the three largest in the country. The New York Times has called us 'the best thing since sliced bread in education.'"
7 – Personalization
The goal of this segment is to trust your listeners with an unexpectedly candid piece of personal information, causing them to “trust you back” (which will make them more receptive to your “asks” in the final step, #8).
Use a signpost phrase so your listeners know you’re shifting to talking about why what you do is personal to you. For example: “This work is personal to me [pause].”
This is NOT about talking about successes and good fortune. The critical thing here is to share something that is genuinely candid, requiring a bit of courage to share because it makes you a bit vulnerable. Apart from regret, candor can also come in the form admitting ignorance, or having had to learn something the hard way. Try to begin a sentence with "To be frank..." and it may lead you to genuine frankness.
It’s essential to keep this short and focused on just one point.
Here is an example:
"This works is personal. I used to be a vice president at a hedge fund. The job made me a lot of money. To be frank, it also made me profoundly unhappy. I saw my therapist at least twice a week. When a friend helped me find my calling here, my life was transformed."
to hear an audio recording of another example in which the speaker achieves candor by talking about something she regrets.
Wrap up the personalization segment by saying something like: “So yes, it’s deeply personal.” Then, self-deprecate and pivot away by saying something like: “But it’s not about me. What’s really at stake, as I said, is…” and re-invoke the larger stakes you stated in the Urgency Segment above.
8 - Action
Use a signpost phrase like “So here’s what you can do [pause].”
Suggest specific and actionable things to do. Don’t force your audience to have to translate your directives into action.
Explain concrete next steps with an uncommon level of detail to convey your earnestness of wanting to engage. For example, actually say your phone number out loud, slowly, extra clearly, and twice as if it is a code for saving the world.
Be confident and direct. Avoid conditional phrases like “If you’re interested, then….”
Know in advance the forward-looking sentence you will say right after “thank you.” Make it count. Make it strong.
For example: “Thank you. And I’m looking forward to what we will do together.”
Having that forward-looking sentence at the very end makes for a more confident ending, as opposed to just saying "thank you" followed by an awkward silence.