Use mad libs to create a compelling elevator pitch for your product, service, or idea.

👥 1 to 5 participants | ⏰ 90 minutes


Whether developing a service, a company-wide initiative, or just a good idea that merits spreading, a group will benefit from collaborating on what is—and isn’t—in the pitch. This is often the most difficult task in developing a new idea. The better and bigger the idea, the harder the pitch is to write.

The elevator pitch must be unique, believable and important. It should be a short and compelling description of the problem, for whom you’re solving it, and the key benefit that distinguishes the solution from competitors.


To set up, write the following questions on flipcharts, one question per page: Who is the target customer? What is the customer need? What is the product name? What is its market category? What is its key benefit? Who or what is the competition? What is the product’s unique differentiator?

These are the elements of the pitch, following a formula: For (target customer) who has (customer need), (product name) is a (market category) that (one key benefit). Unlike (competition), the product (unique differentiator).

Then, explain the elements and their connections: The target customer and customer need are simple. Any relatively good idea or product will have many potential customers and address many needs. Fix the product name in advance—this will help contain the scope of the conversation. The market category should be an easily understood description of the type of idea or product. It may be like “training program” or “peer-to-peer community.” The key benefit is the single most compelling reason a target customer would buy into the idea. The competition and unique differentiator are final punctuation of the pitch. Who or what will the target customer compare this idea to, and why is it unique?

To play

First, participants brainstorm ideas on sticky notes that fit under each of the headers, without discussion.

Next, the group may discuss areas where they have the most trouble. Dot voting or affinity mapping can help prioritize ideas. After this, in small groups, pairs, or as individuals, participants write out possible elevator pitches, based on the ideas on the flipcharts.

After a set amount of time (ex: 15 minutes) the groups reconvene and present their draft pitches. The group may choose to role play as target customers while listening, commenting or asking questions. The group may craft distinct pitches for different target customers.

The exercise is complete when there is a strong direction among the group on what the pitch should and should not contain.