Posted 15/2/11
In this clip, venture capital expert Sean Wise tells us what makes a good Elevator Pitch. The video is an excellent introduction to a range of classroom presentation activities.
  • Language level: Pre-intermediate – advanced (A2 – C1)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults; Business
  • Time: 2 – 3 hours (including follow up)
  • Activity: Speaking; Listening; Reading; Presenting
  • Topic: Sales
  • Language: Business language related to sales pitches (investor interest, value proposition, back to the drawing board, etc)
  • Materials: Video; Worksheet
Elevator pitch pdf [downloaded 5452 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Find a video clip or image from the TV series Dragon’s Den (versions of this are produced in over 20 different countries). Show it to your students and ask the following questions:
  2. * Are you aware of the TV show?
    * Does a version exist in your country?
    * Can you describe the format? (I.e. what happens?)
  3. Write the following on the board and ask students if they can identify the missing word (answer = pitch):
  4. Dragons’ Den is a reality TV programme in which entrepreneurs _______________ their ideas to potential investors in an attempt to raise venture capital.
  5. Show the Elevator Pitch clip with the sound down. Tell students that the man is called Sean Wise. Tell them that he is a venture capital expert. Ask students if they can guess or work out what he is talking about. Ask them if they know why he is in a lift (UK) or elevator (USA).
  6. After a few suggestions, tell students that he is explaining the principle of the Elevator Pitch. Ask if they can work out or guess what this is.
  7. Put students into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss and make notes about what they think should be the characteristics of a good elevator pitch.
  8. Take feedback. Allow different groups or pairs to share their answers.
  9. Play the clip once or twice with the volume up. Ask students how much they understood.
  10. Give out copies of the Elevator Pitch Transcription worksheet (included in PDF download). Go over the full instructions on the worksheet before asking students to complete the task.
  11. Play the video and allow students to correct their answers (supplied in the PDF download).

Follow up

Get students to develop, rehearse and then present their own elevator pitches. The elevator pitch idea can be used in a range of different situations, for example:

  • A business idea
  • Speed dating / personal intro
  • Job interviews
  • Sales ideas
  • An idea for a book or film
  • An invention or product *

* For an invention or product, students could either choose one from their own imagination or use YouTube for inspiration. Some example product demonstrations:

The Harvard Business School has an online Elevator Pitch Builder which can be also be used in conjunction with this lesson plan:

Note that the duration of an elevator pitch will depend on the situation and the source (Sean Wise – 2 minutes; Wikipedia – Between 30 seconds and two minutes; Harvard Business School – 1 minute). Perhaps you could give students a word limit for their pitch preparations, 150-200 words.


The elevator pitch video is short and the language is clear enough for higher level students to transcribe it. This could be done either in an IT room, for homework or even in the classroom with a single computer (give video control to a responsible student and leave the room yourself).

Posted 15/2/11

7 Responses to Elevator pitch

  1. Joelle says:

    This is going to be perfect for my advanced level mature teens. I found a great Dragons Den clip and in it some great language for emphasis. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Good luck Joelle. I have always had a mixed response with this lesson plan. Groups have either loved it or hated it. Will be interested to hear how you get on. J :)

  2. Joelle says:

    It went really well. In the Dragon’s Den clip, I got the students to identify the pain statement and the value proposition as a listening task. There was also a nice example of inversion used for emphasis (‘Not only will you….’) which led onto a grammar focus, which provided useful language for the students’ sales pitches later in the lesson. I gave each group a picture of a funny invention and they drew up a business plan and designed an advertisement to display while they presented their pitches to the class. It was a very productive afternoon! Thanks again for the lesson! :)

  3. Jamie Keddie says:

    Do you have the Dragon’s Den clip? Is it on YouTube?

  4. Joelle says:

    It’s called EggXactly on the BBC Dragon’s Den web page (‘the original pitch’). I cut a part of the clip to get to the inversion example sooner, so as not to overload the students with the listening task.

  5. Joelle says:

    By the way, it’s quite a funny clip if you keep watching. The prototype doesn’t work and he has a bit of a disaster with it. But the Dragons still invest! You could easily work in a prediction task for students to guess what happens in the end – if you have time in the lesson.

  6. TEFLGamer says:

    This is a great idea Jamie, thanks. If you’re interested in this kind of activity, you might want to check out the party game “Snake Oil”. There are lots of lesson plans and ideas about how to use games like this on