An “elevator pitch” (or “elevator speech’ or “elevator statement") is a short speech—like what you’d say to a person during the brief time on an elevator. The “pitch” that a person presents must be sharp and concise.
American businessman and author PhilipB. Crosby (1926-2001) wrote in The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way (2nd Edition) (1981):
“When teaching Quality Management, I always teach my students to learn an ‘elevator speech.’ This is the all-encompassing, action-producing set of ideas and actions that you pronounce while on the elevator with the big boss for just 1 minute.”
“Elevator pitch” has been cited in print since at least 1997 and “elevator statement” since at least 2000.
Wikipedia: Elevator pitch
An elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a profess, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition.
The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes and is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was Editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting.
Wikipedia: Phiip B. Crosby
Philip Bayard “Phil” Crosby, (June 18, 1926 – August 18, 2001) was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices.
Crosby initiated the Zero Defects program at the Martin Company. As the quality control manager of the Pershing missile program, Crosby was credited with a 25 percent reduction in the overall rejection rate and a 30 percent reduction in scrap costs.
The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way (2nd Edition)
BY Philip B. Crosby
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
When teaching Quality Management, I always teach my students to learn an “elevator speech.” This is the all-encompassing, action-producing set of ideas and actions that you pronounce while on the elevator with the big boss for just 1 minute.
How to Manage Your Boss
By George E. Berkley
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Gordon Crosby, the U.S. Life president cited earlier, is also a teacher of management, and one thing he requires his students to master is the art of preparing and delivering what he calls an “elevator speech.” This, says Crosby, is “the all-encompassing, action-producing set of ideas and facts that you pronounce while on the elevator with the big boss for just one minute.” (Schoenberg, 1978)
23 May 1989, Washington (DC) Times, “A linguistic guide to feeding bears at Fort Fumble” (AP), pg. B5, col. 3:
Elevator speech—A short briefing, perhaps two or three minutes.
Professor Thomas C. Reeves, University of Georgia
Sep 15, 1997
The Wow Project
In the new economy, all work is project work. And you are your projects! Here’s how to make them all go Wow!
BY TOM PETERS
First appeared: FC24, p.116
Sure, you’ve got butterflies in your stomach and a hammer in your heart — but the elevator pitch isn’t really about dealing with pressure. It’s about communication. And caring. Can you take the hopelessly complicated set of problems that you’re juggling in your project and reduce those problems to three bullet points that anyone can immediately understand? Better yet, can you dispense with PowerPoint slides altogether and sum up your project in the perfect metaphor?
13 June 1999, CIO, “High Terminology,” pg. 18:
What They Say
An elevator pitch.
What It Means
All an entrepreneur can tell a venture capitalist about a company in three minutes.
Awakening Your Leadership Potential
By Jeffrey L. Magee
Dallas, TX: Brown Books
l call this the “elevator statement.” As you develop your short, concise elevator statement, think about how you’ll get the person to whom you’re talking to ask, “so how do you do that?”
13 August 2000, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “Develop ‘elevator pitch’ to sell yourself in a huarry” by Rhonda Abrams, pg. 5E:
An elevator pitch is the short description you could give about your company in the time it would take to ride up an elevator—and not an elevator in a skyscraper, either. An elevator pitch is clear, concise and to-the-point. As importantly, escpecially when speaking with investors, it shows you understand the core aspects of your business.
OCLC WorldCat record
Pitch yourself : get ahead with your personal elevator pitch
Author: Michael Faust; Bill Faust
Publisher: London : Momentum, 2002.
Edition/Format: Print book : English
OCLC WorldCat record
Elevator pitch essentials : how to create an effective elevator pitch
Author: Chris O’Leary
Publisher: [S.l.] : Limb Press, 2008.
Edition/Format: Print book : English : 1st ed
The history of the Elevator Speech
BY GRAHAM WILSON, ON NOVEMBER 25TH, 2012
Still with ITT, in 1972, he (Philip Crosby—ed.) wrote a book called “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way” which described people management and quality management – giving his perspectives on how you could apply quality management in your management of people. It wasn’t an overnight best seller and Crosby continued to remain well known among quality professionals, but otherwise unheard of.
In the latter half of the 70s, the US was losing market share to Japanese businesses and the common perception as to why was the poor quality of US goods and services. There was a huge demand for quality professionals at the time, and spotting this Crosby set up a consultancy training business in 1979. As was the norm in those days, the best marketing collateral was seen to be a book, and so he quickly produced his next, “Quality is Free”, that year. This propelled him into the public eye, and he was soon a key player on the international speaking circuit. He decided to produce a follow-up book, and for expediency did a 2nd edition of “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way” which appeared in 1981.
So… I’d have to say that the term “Elevator Speech” entered the published media in 1981, had become a popular term among managers in the US by 1987, and was already being promoted in the UK from 1983.
The VC firm behind Snapchat took the phrase ‘elevator pitch’ literally and turned their elevator into a practice pitch room
Aug. 19, 2015, 2:19 PM
An elevator pitch is supposed to be a short summary of your business that you could pitch quickly when meeting someone in an elevator.
Venture capital firm General Catalyst decided to take the idea in a very literal sense, so it built a pitch room into the elevator in their Palo Alto, California office. The office is only three stories — a basement, main level and second floor — so startups in their accelerator (or anyone) can practice pitching fast.