I Used this 203 Word Elevator Pitch to Sell Jimmy Carter 20 Million Light Bulbs

Most people do elevator pitches completely wrong so I wanted to share this recent pitch I made for former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. This is one of the best elevator pitch examples I have and I think it will answer a lot of questions.

Here’s the big idea: because we have less time when we deliver an elevator pitch, we generally feel the need to get straight into the features and benefits of our product or service.

“Our mop absorbs 200% more, weighs half as much, and costs a fraction of what the competition charges!”

Unfortunately, this approach is entirely WRONG! When you have less than a minute to deliver a pitch it is even MORE critical that you focus on generating intrigue and leaving the listener wanting to learn more. Don’t waste time on features and benefits.

Remember, features and benefits create cold cognitions. We want to trigger hot cognitions (more on this in my book, Pitch Anything).

If your prospect is interested after hearing your big idea, then you can schedule time to talk about the specifics or hand her a brochure or whatever.


A few weeks ago I was asked to prepare a pitch for former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. We wanted his money and his endorsement.

You may ask, what sort of new, exciting and sexy product was I selling him … was it missile tracking software or robotic foot soldiers?
One of the best elevator pitch examples ever. Pitching Jimmy Carter on 20 million light bulbs.

I wish. This presentation was for … light bulbs. A product almost as exciting as driveway gravel.

This lack of inherent “sexiness” is why I think this is one of the best elevator pitch examples for teaching the concepts. There was zero intrigue built into the product. I had to create all of the hot cognition from scratch.

In fact, when I first got offered this job, I said, “NO, screw your light bulbs.”

Everyone laughed with me, but then, when I saw the size of the check involved, I got more interested.

Soon I was cheering, “YES! I’ll screw-in those light bulbs right alongside you!”


  1. Get a U.S. President interested in 20 million light bulbs.
  2. Pitch one of the most boring consumer products as sexy and exciting.


– Grab his attention and generate hot cognition within 60 seconds

– Pitch the entire business in under 5-minutes

– Reframe light bulbs as new, exciting and interesting


After the presentation, get a commitment for a full 1-hour meeting.


Here’s my thinking and approach.

First, I knew the entire pitch had to be limited to a maximum of 5-minutes. Anything longer than that, the President’s handlers would start to break it up, and we would end on a desperate note. Better for us to be in control of the meeting than the Secret Service. The first minute or so would be my “elevator pitch”. 

Second, I did the math. With a total of five minutes for the pitch, and considering that Americans speak about 120 words per minute, my “budget” was just 600 words.

Third, As much as I wanted to find a way, there was no-way to make these light bulbs sexy. So I would have to get all the excitement in the presentation from “human drama” (you’ll see what I mean in a moment.)


Here’s how I spent the first 203 words of my 600 word budget:

Mr. President,


KEROSENE FUMES WOULD BURN YOUR EYES. You would get dizzy. And you’d end up with neurological and kidney damage.

Truth is, when the sun goes down and it gets dark, it doesn’t affect you at all. You simply flip a switch. That gives you light, and you carry on business without interruption.

But there are a lot of people who don’t have access to this kind of always-on energy.  Large populations in Southeast Asia and Africa have to do things that you would never even consider: they make their children study by the light of kerosene lamps or travel several miles at night to use a community streetlamp. Burning kerosene is a waste of money. It causes health problems. And it’s really dangerous.

If you or I have the power to change this situation, we should use it.

As you’re about to learn, the kerosene problem is not only serious, it’s very, very big.

Mr. President, the next 4-minutes are dedicated to our business, and how we make money providing light and energy to those who live off-the-grid, eliminating the need to use toxic fuels for light around the world.


After the company started using this introduction, they have signed many new orders and revenues are growing quickly. This is one of the most emotional (and effective) presentations I have ever used.


The first thing that makes this one of the best elevator pitch examples is that we were able to take a completely un-sexy product and generate immediate intrigue. If the product you’re selling is Baywatch, you might not care about this. But most of us have to sell things that aren’t necessarily inspiring on the surface.

The second thing that makes this one of the best elevator pitch examples is that we mentioned nothing whatsoever about how our product works or what the features are. I can’t stress this enough. The point of the elevator pitch is not to tell people about your product, it is to get them interested in your product. Tell them about it later.

For more on how to write very brief pitches that get huge results, check out my free online course. It contains 5 professional-quality video lessons and takes 20 minutes to complete. In it I will show you how to take control with just 120 words, hold attention the right way, describe your features and benefits, eliminate the competition, and close the sale.


I work on projects like this every day. My company has developed a system and we know what works and what doesn’t. I think it would take you a loooong time to do this on your own. But if you allow me to pitch in and help, you could have it nailed down in about 2-weeks.

Go here to get your pitch audited, corrected and polished

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