To the Sound of Elevator Music: Elevator Pitches!

Next week, my business writing students will present elevator pitches for fictional companies, making specific suggestions about how the company should use social media for advertising, gaining client feedback, increasing brand recognition, obtaining internet pull research, or protecting the company through social media policies.  The project, which is part of a larger white paper report, is described in this prompt, in case you like this idea.

Elevator pitches are FUN to teach and enjoyable to listen to!  For homework, I assigned my students the following multimedia “readings” to introduce them to the elevator pitch genre and to get them thinking about which “moves” are effective in such a short presentation:

The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch (Read) http://www.businessweek.com/careers/content/jun2007/ca20070618_134959.htm

CBS’ “Dragons’ Den” Intro to Elevator Pitches (Watch):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq0tan49rmc

Univ. of Dayton Elevator Pitch Winner (Watch):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqIEE-g_-Uc&feature=related

Utah State Elevator Pitch Winner (Watch):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6O98o2FRHw

A Sales Pitch in 60 Seconds (Listen):  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89209786

In class, I was delighted by the conversation that happened around this media.  We started by breaking down the three student pitches (two video winners, and one an audio report from NPR).  I replayed their introductions and asked students to help me identify the specific, chronological moves the speakers were making.  They were able to identify the order of the speakers’ arguments, and draw specific advice from their speeches (i.e. memorize, begin with a problem statement or engaging bit of info, use stats that make your product/approach very important and urgent, etc.).  The Univ. of Dayton pitch in particular led to an interested conversation about audience and gender, and how to avoid upsetting particular groups.  After our conversation, I had them use the Harvard Business School’s Elevator Pitch Builder to inspire their preparation for the presentation.  But the best part was the elevator music I played in the background as they worked.  It set a fun, engaging tone in the classroom… and I’m pretty sure it lightened things up:

HBS Elevator Pitch Builder (Play):  http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/

Elevator Music (Listen while building pitches through HBS):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf8FCLT8S6A

About taylo206

I am an Assistant Professor of Composition, Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
This entry was posted in Business Writing, Public Rhetorics, Teaching Approaches, Writing Exercises. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to To the Sound of Elevator Music: Elevator Pitches!

  1. allison says:

    you’re teaching business writing? me too! i might use some of this…

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