The elevator test for presenters

A good way to approach a presentation is to spend some time thinking about the key messages you want your audience to remember. In other words, if I bumped into a participant outside of the venue and asked them what your talk was about…what would they tell me? If you start planning your presentation by defining your key messages, it’s easy to work backwards and structure your entire presentation to support these.

This is a version of the elevator test or elevator pitch, which challenges a person to provide a short and compelling summary of an idea or proposition to another person in the time it would take to complete a short elevator trip, approximately 30 seconds.

Often a great deal of work and craftsmanship goes into making something look or sound simple. It’s easy to waffle on, but takes focus to distil and refine your content into something persuasive and memorable. It reminds me of a wonderful quote from Mark Twain: ‘I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time’.


One thought on “The elevator test for presenters

  1. Well said! Working out the key takeaway is such a vital step, yet so few presenters actually do it. No wonder audiences struggle to know what all the slides are meant to mean!

    There’s a 3-part formula for a highly audience-focused elevator pitch in the table here:

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