Elevator Pitch

Purpose of this Assignment

When you attend conferences, visit other universities, and generally interact with your other re- search colleagues, they will almost unfailingly ask you “So what are you working on?” or some variant of this question. You must offer a coherent response. In many cases, this will the your colleague’s primary mode for judging you and your research. A strong, clear answer to this question can form a very strong impression; on the flip side, a flaky response can be a “career-limiting” move.

The coherent response is commonly known as an “elevator pitch”. Your elevator pitch should be multi-resolution: you should have a research summary that gives the main idea of your work in no more than 30 seconds (the length of an elevator ride, the time you might cross paths with someone in the restroom/hallway, etc.). Your short elevator pitch is also very useful for explaining to people outside of your immediate area (often helpful for broader PR). If a colleague engages you in further discussion, you should be prepared to gently dive into more details (a 5-minute elevator pitch…a “cab ride pitch”).


Your task is to create a compelling elevator pitch about your research. This can be one of the mini-project topics that you’re working on throughout the semester, or research that you’re doing with your advisor outside of the mini-projects. It’s likely the case that over your research career, you’re going to have many elevator pitches, and that isn’t a bad thing!

Your elevator pitch should be 30-45 seconds, and follow the guidelines discussed during the “How to Give a Great Talk” lecture. Be prepared to give you pitch in class.