How to create an elevator pitch to talk about your research in under 5 minutes — R Voice

How to create an elevator pitch to talk about your research in under 5 minutes

Andrea Hayward
Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin
edited July 21 in Academic Careers

"So, tell me a little bit about yourself and your work" We've all had this question directed towards us - either at networking events, job interviews, conferences, informal work gatherings, etc.

Ideally, it should be the easiest question we ever answer. We're experts on ourselves and our work, right? But this question seems a lot more complicated when you actually have to answer it in the spur of the moment, especially when you have only a few minutes to convey your core message and pique your listener's interest.

The best thing we can do is prepare. But how do we decide what to add? Researchers are used to talking about their work in depth and getting into the smallest details and technical specifics (thesis, research papers, elaborate posters, blog posts, etc.). How can we sum up so many years of work into just a few minutes?

Here's where an elevator pitch for your research would come in handy. An elevator pitch is a crisp introduction that highlights the most important points of what you're trying to convey. It needs to be quick, engaging, and interesting.

The article below lists useful tips and a step-by-step guide on drafting this elevator pitch for your own research. I thought this would be a great exercise to try on R Voice. So here's what I want you to do -

  • Read the article and let me know what you think in the comments
  • Use the tips to prepare an elevator pitch for your work/research (You don't have to share it with the community, if you don't want to. But, I'd love to know whether you found it helpful)


  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin

    I'm really excited for this discussion so I'm tagging some folks who I think will find this interesting. Please feel free to tag others 🙂

    @Isurika Sevwandi @Oladele Campbell @Mdumiseni Mdumiseni Mazula @Juan Carlos Torres-Galván @Gayatri Ramachandran @Vivien Kretz @vicky dariano @Lafi Munira @Soumi Paul @Michael Matulile @Sargun Bedi @Dian Marta Sari @Tony Nwankwo @Azzeddine REGHAIS

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! :)

  • Tony Nwankwo
    Tony Nwankwo Member Posts: 18 ✭✭

    Hello, @Andrea Hayward The tips are quite cool, though more relevant in a work setting. However, the nature of the presentation (conferences, workshops, defenses, etc.) and the environment would mostly determine how the elevator pitch is structured. From a research point of view, an elevator pitch would go beyond promoting yourself to promoting your research, either before the board or before a specific audience. And just like the author rightly pointed out in the last paragraph, it's always important to identify your audience before developing an elevator pitch, and good time management skills are also essential.

  • Soumi Paul
    Soumi Paul Member Posts: 204 ✭✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward, it is an implementation-worthy read. And, yes, an elevator speech is changeable based on the audience/job position you are applying for.

    Communication is the key to thriving! 😊

  • Isurika Sevwandi
    Isurika Sevwandi Member Posts: 120 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Andrea Hayward and thanks for inviting me to read this article which brightens my day as the first thing I did today morning at work is to read it and it was rejuvenating me and gave me a moment to reflect on the takeaways along with my LinkedIn profile intro. I totally agree with the tips presented by the author of the article and tailoring it according to the event, the person you are pitching to and your intention is massively important as mentioned by @Soumi Paul and @Tony Nwankwo.

    Adding a bit of uniqueness to the pitch is also necessary, for instance why you are different from others in the sense of your purpose in life/ academia/ career or what values are you bringing to the table is massively important to differentiate you from others. Moreover, if you can relate your story with the person or the industry/ academic field the person is representing would attract them to listen carefully. Finally, your gestures, facial expressions, and tone of communication can add more flavor which can transition the pitch into a productive conversation later on. That's my two cents for today!

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    I couldn't agree more with what @Isurika Sevwandi has said. The intonation, body language, emotion and the right pitch at which you pitch your "pitch" goes a long way in drawing the interest of the listener and help taking the conversation forward.

    On an average note down your strong points as you introspect. Pointers to your professional and personal strengths are forgotten and that's quite natural, when we are asked to "pitch" in. Hence note them down as and when you remember them and go through these notes periodically. This will help during such interactions when you have to introduce yourself in 2-5min and boost your morale to help invest that extra confidence in what you are and what you are capable of!

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin
    edited July 26

    @Soumi Paul thank you for taking the time to share feedback. Glad to learn that this has implementation-potential 🙂

    You're 100% right. An elevator speech for a job interview would be so different from the one you would use if you wanted to strike up a conversation with a fellow researcher at a conference.

  • Juan Carlos Torres-Galván
    Juan Carlos Torres-Galván Member Posts: 15 ✭✭

    Hi @Andrea Hayward and all of the great people that is in this community, I just had this exercise last week in a course that I was taken in the University... If I only had a little more of time to check your comments this could be awesome.

    In this exercise that we did, I had to make the presentation of a project to a committee to win a grant with a budget of the people that was part of the project and their salaries, the cost of the equipment, etc., but we only had 6 minuts to present this project to the committee, unfortunately I don't finished to present all the things that I want in that amount of time, but the reviewers give me some feedback that I think it could help.

    They said that we should be short, very direct to the most important things and present the most relevant things of the project, they don't want a class about the topic, they want understand that the things that you want to present makes sense in a scientific way to solve a problem and go to the big picture of the things, if they are interesed in that you could do an extended presentation of the project, but is necessary to have this things very clear in your mind.

    I hope that it could works

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin
    edited July 28

    @Tony Nwankwo you're so right. In an academic setting, the elevator pitch would mainly cover your research. I agree that time management is key because being as close as we are to our own research/work, we inch towards sharing a very detailed explanation. And sometimes, we might not even realize that we're going on and on because we feel so strongly about our work. Preparing an impactful, brief introduction about your research can enable you to share just enough information to pique your audience's interest and convey the crux of your work.

    Do you usually prepare different variations of an elevator pitch for your research, based on the audience?

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin

    Hi @Isurika Sevwandi. Apologies for the slight delay in my response. Glad to hear that you liked this article and that it helped you kick-start your week on a positive note. I hadn't thought of this in terms of a LinkedIn profile at all. Great point! 😃

    I love your thoughts on adding a differentiating factor to your pitch. I agree that this would help, and might even encourage your listener to make a decision in your favor. Facial expressions and tone does play a major role in productive conversations. Like we've discussed on another R Voice thread, you cannot expect your audience to feel excited about your work, if you don't sound excited about it yourself.

    @Isurika Sevwandi you've been adding so much value to existing articles that I've been sharing here. Really enjoying these discussions with you and reading your perspective. Thanks for always taking the time to leave your thoughts on R Voice 🤗

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 943 admin
    edited July 28

    Hi @Juan Carlos Torres-Galván. It's great to see you on R Voice ☺️

    Thank you for taking the time to share this experience with us. The timing of this post and your experience is such a coincidence, right? I'm sorry to hear that the presentation didn't go as planned. But please don't be too hard on yourself. Such situations are always extremely stressful especially when you need to convey a great deal of information in a short time. It's normal to feel confused about which bits to retain and which ones to let go.

    That said, I think the committee has shared very constructive feedback with you. Their analogy suggesting that this kind of presentation differs from a "class/lecture" is very helpful. Because then you know that even though you have so many details, you only need to convey the most important points. And then the details can be conveyed later as well, if the initial brief presentation is a success.

    Good luck for the next one, Juan! I hope it goes very well 👍️

  • Tony Nwankwo
    Tony Nwankwo Member Posts: 18 ✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward, so sorry my reply came a bit late.

    Yes, I make different variations of the elevator pitch for my research.

    Ideally, what I want to get from the audience and the caliber of people that make up the audience would determine if I would make different variations of the elevator pitch for my research.

    If my audience share similar characteristics, "No" it's not necessary to prepare a different variation of the elevator pitch.

    However, if my audience varies, "Yes" I would need to make some modifications (variations) to meet my objective with the audience.

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 283 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for creating this thread @Andrea Hayward ! I definitely also think that body language and confidence go a long way. Especially confidence. However, I am still somewhat insecure when presenting. So this was very interesting, thank you so much.