Crafting a Meaningful Elevator Pitch

Last week Selena Horner (@SnippetPhysTher) shared a Fast Company article on Twitter entitled “The Problem With Your Elevator Pitch—And How To Fix It.” The point of said article is obvious, but that’s not what caught Selena’s eye. It was the example the author uses of a bad elevator pitch: “I help busy professionals live pain-free lives so that they can get back to work.” In addition to this being a vague and fairly clichéd description of a physical therapist, the author also points out that entrepreneurs, in general, have learned that they need an elevator pitch, but haven’t truly learned how to create a meaningful one and then deliver it in an effective (read: human) way.

This article stirred quite the discussion on Twitter. Numerous people tweeted that they don’t believe in elevator pitches, that they just speak from the heart; others said the term “elevator pitch” is off-putting and clichéd in itself and therefore would only inspire people to in turn speak in clichés. Concluding the Twitter conversation, Jerry Durham (@Jerry_DurhamPT) summarized: “Your explanation is your pitch.” So, no matter how you label it (elevator or basic summary) or how you describe your job (well-rehearsed or off the cuff), it’s all your pitch. And in the end, the fact remains the same: a lot of us struggle to succinctly and successfully describe our profession. With that said, let’s discuss how to create a meaningful elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

According to an article on, an elevator pitch “is the 30-60 second business description of what you do and why someone should work with you.” According to the Harvard Business Review, you should think of your elevator pitch like this: “You have one minute to explain yourself, your business, your goals, and your passions. Your audience knows none of these. Are you prepared? Can you present your vision smoothly, enticing them to want to know more?”

Why is an elevator pitch important to PTs?

For many entrepreneurs, the elevator pitch represents an opportunity to convince a potential client, partner, or investor that you are exactly what they need. For physical therapists, the elevator pitch can be slightly different. For PTs, everyone is a potential patient, advocate, supporter, or referrer. Thus, every interaction is an opportunity for an elevator pitch: an opportunity to position yourself—and your profession—as the musculoskeletal expert. When the people you’ve interacted with think pain, they should think PT—not chiropractor, or physician, or surgeon. In short, have a rock solid pitch.

How do I craft my pitch?

  1. Make a list. Start by jotting down who you are and what you do. Don’t limit yourself in any way; just write down everything that comes to mind however off the wall it might be. After all, you’ll want to be unique because unique is memorable.
  2. Turn your list into a narrative. There’s nothing more compelling than a good story, so turn who you are and what you do into a captivating tale that highlights how what you do benefits the people you serve. Maybe you’ve helped a patient regain their mobility, get back to their life, or achieve a meaningful goal. Or maybe you got started in therapy after seeing the benefits first-hand.
  3. Make sure your narrative has a happy ending. What’s your purpose? What are your goals? Make sure your story concludes with those aspirations. Nothing is more inspirational, and creating a warm emotional connection is exactly what you’re trying to do.
  4. Let it marinate. You’ve done beaucoup writing. Call it a day and return to your notes tomorrow with fresh eyes and ears.
  5. Condense and edit. You may have pages upon pages worth of stories, notes, and explanations. Now, it’s time to tighten. Read your writing out loud to aid with flow and tone. Remember, you want to sound natural, conversational. Reading aloud can help ensure that. Also, time your reading. Typically elevator pitches are under a minute.
  6. Rehearse and revise. Talk through your story, over and over again until it feels just right. And make sure to check both visual and audio cues. Whether that means rehearsing in front of a live audience or recording yourself on your phone or computer and playing it back, it’s important to make sure that both your verbal and nonverbal language is on point. Pay attention to your smile, your eye contact, your hand motions, and your inflection. A first impression may be all the opportunity you’ll have, so make it count. And that means making tweaks, cuts, and changes. Then rehearse again.
  7. Practice and measure. Put your elevator pitch to work. Get out there and talk to people. As you speak, gauge people’s reactions: what do their expressions say? How do they respond? Use those verbal and nonverbal cues to further revise and enhance your pitch. Lastly, measure those interactions. Do they blossom into meaningful relationships, potential business, or new referrals? Ultimately, elevator pitches should influence “sales,” so pay attention to the results that may stem from your interactions.

We’ve tackled the basics; now it’s your turn. How do you speak succinctly and passionately about your profession? How can you make sure that when someone experiences joint, bone, or muscle pain they think of you the PT before anyone else? To help you get started, check out the super nifty and uber simple Harvard Business Review’s Elevator Pitch Builder

Be sure to share your thoughts, tips, and success stories in the comments below.

Physical Therapy Software Buyer’s Guide - Regular BannerPhysical Therapy Software Buyer’s Guide - Small Banner
  • articleJun 19, 2013 | 4 min. read

    5 Tips for Creating an Inviting Reception Area in Your Clinic

    Your mother always told you not to judge a book by its cover, but in the world of small business, first impressions are crucial. Regardless of the type of practice you own, a patient’s opinion of your business begins the moment he or she walks through the front door. (For tips on getting more patients through the door in the first place, be sure to download our free marketing e-book .) The more welcoming the space, the …

  • Measuring Matters: Key Metrics for Marketing and Sales for Physical Therapy Practices Image

    articleMay 21, 2014 | 8 min. read

    Measuring Matters: Key Metrics for Marketing and Sales for Physical Therapy Practices

    You might be one heck of a salesperson, or you might be a master marketer. But how do you know that? A gut feeling, perhaps? Sales or marketing skills only matter to a business if that business understands the value those skills provide. More succinctly, sales or marketing only matter if they work, and the only way you’ll know if they’re working is if you measure them. With that, here are a few key metrics that’ll help …

  • Finding and Marketing Your OT Niche Image

    articleJun 19, 2019 | 5 min. read

    Finding and Marketing Your OT Niche

    The second rule of marketing any professional service is to know your audience . The first is to know yourself—but as an occupational therapist, you most likely have that part covered. Surely, by now, you know the value of the services you provide —but you may still be struggling to identify: who you’re best suited to provide those services to, and how you’ll reach those patients. And while it may seem like a good idea to serve …

  • Hiring the Right Marketing and Sales Person for Your Practice Image

    articleMay 15, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Hiring the Right Marketing and Sales Person for Your Practice

    As a physical therapist, you know that the vast majority of the general public could benefit from your services in one way or another. The sad reality, though, is that most people don’t even know what physical therapists do —let alone how seeing a PT could drastically improve their quality of life. In any business, though, profits are driven by demand. And if you want to keep your doors open—or better yet, grow your practice—then you have …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

  • Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar Image

    articleMay 16, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar

    Earlier this week, WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and guest host Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, hosted a webinar designed to help physical therapists learn the art of discovering—and selling—their value. While PTs have historically shied away from sales, in today’s evolving healthcare ecosystem, it’s absolutely imperative that all providers—and especially specialists such as rehab therapists—excel at positioning the benefits of their services in such a way that resonates with patients, payers, and referral sources. At …

  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them) Image

    webinarDec 22, 2017

    Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them)

    If life is a highway, then it’s a wild, bumpy one. And while our patients want to ride it (all night long), with all those twists, turns, and potholes, they’re bound to get banged up. Fortunately, you’re here to help get them back in top form. But, helping patients achieve their goals is hard work—for you and for them—and while everyone strives to be a Ferrari, it’s common to plateau at Pinto. And that’s when the risk …

  • The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs Image

    articleOct 8, 2015 | 6 min. read

    The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs

    Dale Carnegie said, “To be interesting, be interested.” This wisdom is the foundation of the net promoter score® (NPS). In the simplest of terms, NPS is a standardized customer loyalty metric. It rates how likely a customer is to recommend your brand, product, and/or service to a colleague or friend. NPS is a solid indicator of customer (i.e., patient) engagement and retention , because people typically only recommend brands, products, or services they feel are truly deserving …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.