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  • Daniel Ling

Design Thinkers' Guide to Elevator Pitch

Updated: Feb 13

Essentially, an elevator pitch is a snazzy sales pitch. An elevator pitch is the conversation starter between you and potential investors or collaborators.

“What are you up to these days?”, “What are you working as?”, “Do you have anything new for me?” are several questions that create an avenue for your elevator pitch. These questions may hit you at the unlikeliest moments, when you run into an ex-colleague at the grocer’s or at a family Christmas dinner so it is crucial that your elevator pitch can be recalled quickly.

Always be prepared with your elevator pitch as you never know when you will run into someone who could end up being an important player in your work. Your nosey-parker of a cousin may not end up being an investor but bear in mind that if he/she gets your idea in simple terms, then potential investors will too.

Always be ready with the elevator pitch- you never know who will get you started!

As a general rule of thumb, an elevator pitch, much like an elevator ride, should not take longer than 3 minutes. The following guides offer a general structure that you may follow, but are encouraged to practise and improvise depending on your audience:



Introduce yourself and what you do. Talk about what's your mission and what you want to achieve in life. Get your audience to start rooting for you.

Like every great characterisation of personas in Empathize Phase / Design Thinking, always look at what are your functional (what are your goals and vision), your emotional (how you feel about it) and your social (who do you work with or get inspired by) aspects in introducing yourself.


Then share the problem or opportunity you have identified. Speak in first-person perspective to create an emotional connection between you and your audience.

Define the problem that you have learned in Define Phase in Design Thinking- and what your action plan to deliver the benefit and the reason behind your action.


After that, describe your idea and how it solves the problem. Include facts, your

personal experience, a human interest story or whatever you reckon would hook your audience.


Conclude your pitch by showing something- as what you have learnt in Prototype Phase- in such like a wireframe, an unfinished visual or some sketches- which can be readily be shown on your phone.

Explain how it works and it doesn't have to be in detail- a lot of impressions can be shown from the prototype.


Lastly, end off with the audience being tasked to do something. It could be as simple as a feedback or an opinion. Maybe a pitch to your boss is more of an approval or acknowledgement. Getting your audience to ponder on the task creates ownership of your pitch and get them onboard.

Show your pitch- saves you trouble of telling :)


In conclusion, Design Thinking methodology is really helpful to guide any person to craft their elevator pitch- harnessing some mindsets of problem-solving such as empathy and good problem definition to deliver a presentation.

Remember to practice your elevator pitch and make it yours. Although the internet is filled with examples of moving speeches and keynote presentations, that may be enticing to imitate, bear in mind to be yourself. Audiences are drawn to authenticity and clarity, so let them buy yours!

Last Words

I will be adding more articles on Design Thinking throughout the year. Articles of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test will be added periodically to give my readers a broader insights to Design Thinking.

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About the Author

Daniel Ling has more than 10 years of Design Thinking experience and has moulded himself to be a “designer in a business suit”- strong in the Design Thinking process and yet relevant to the financial and business industry- across OCBC, DBS, NTUC Income and Lazada. He trained close to 500 professionals in the area of Design Thinking, Innovation and Strategy. He authored the Complete Design Thinking Guide for Successful Professionals and the book is sold worldwide via Amazon, iTunes, Ingram, Lulu and Kinokuniya.

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