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
Lesson plan outline
- 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:
- Write the following on the board and ask students if they can identify the missing word (answer = pitch): Dragons’ Den is a reality TV programme in which entrepreneurs _______________ their ideas to potential investors in an attempt to raise venture capital.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Take feedback. Allow different groups or pairs to share their answers.
- Play the clip once or twice with the volume up. Ask students how much they understood.
- 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.
- Play the video and allow students to correct their answers (supplied in the PDF download).
* Are you aware of the TV show?
* Does a version exist in your country?
* Can you describe the format? (I.e. what happens?)
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 most useless product ever
- Pizza box turns into plates
- Walking house
- Cup for drinking in zero gravity
The Harvard Business School has an online Elevator Pitch Builder which can be also be used in conjunction with this lesson plan: http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/
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).