December 14, 2011

The Spark.

The Spark: The Elevator Pitch

Welcome to The Spark - a tidbit of wisdom to stimulate ideas and help you transform your student organization. The Spark is a bi-weekly resource provided through the Center for Student Involvement which is sent to all registered officers through PantherSync.

“So tell me about your organization. What is it that you do?” As you look to recruit new members, market an event, or raise funds for a cause, each member should be able to answer that question. So how can you be prepared to promote your organization and explain why you exist?

Enter “The Elevator Pitch”. Business and marketing experts say that you should be able to describe your organization to someone in the length of time that it would take to ride an elevator – about 30 to 60 seconds. Yes, it’s short, but that is the typical amount of time that you will have someone’s full attention before they are ready to move on.

Introduce the pitch. Take some time during your next meeting to share the concept. Grab a stop watch (there’s an app for that), and have members give it a shot. Anticipate some giggles, awkward pauses, and fast talking the first time. Start by practicing in pairs, so that members can get one-on-one feedback without feeling intimidated. Then encourage a few brave members to share, before another round of practice.

Be open to variation. You want each member to share their own style. Rather than asking all members to memorize the same speech, encourage creativity and individuality. Aim for conversational rather than formal. If members need some help getting started, brainstorm a list of key words. Your mission or purpose statement can serve as a guide. You may learn something about the group through the way each member describes what you do.

Make it personal. Have you ever noticed how someone’s eyes light up when they are really excited or passionate about something? It’s captivating! Encourage members to include a sentence or two about what they love about the organization or why they continue to be involved.

Put it into action. Set a goal for each member to give their pitch at least once before the next meeting. The more you practice, the more natural it will become. This is a great skill both as a student leader and future professional. Developing your personal elevator pitch can also be helpful during a job search.

So tell me about your organization…

Want to learn other techniques for networking? Contact the Center for Student Involvement to set up a consultation. To make a training request, visit and click on Organization Training and complete the Training Request for Registered Student Organization form. You can also access this form in PantherSync through the "Forms" tool. Consultations may also be requested by emailing or calling 414-229-5780.