Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Elevator Speech

Daniel Schwarz, Daniel Schwarz | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Elevator Speech

This strategy encourages students to prepare and deliver short persuasive speeches using a version of the "elevator speech" concept. Students hone their public speaking skills as they persuade their peers to consider the validity of a topic.

Elevator Speech


This activity adapts the concept of the "elevator speech" into a classroom strategy where students prepare short persuasive speeches to convince their peers that their ideas, or topics discussed in class, are worth considering. 


  1. Have students write down everything they know about an issue or issues that are important to them, or that relate to a topic discussed in class.

  2. Ask students to review the notes they've made. Have them cut out unnecessary details and flesh out remaining notes into complete sentences. Then, students should connect their sentences with smooth transitions. Each speech should be 8-10 sentences long.

  3. Allow time for students to practice reciting their speeches, ensuring that they are well-reasoned and no longer than 30 seconds—the length of an elevator ride. They can practice by themselves or with 3-4 peers.

  4. As students polish their speeches, make sure they answer the following question for their audience: Why does this idea matter? Additionally, invite students to open their speeches with statements or questions that grab the attention of the audience.

  5. Have each student stand and deliver their speech. Remind speakers to be confident and energetic, as listeners can detect their interest or disinterest for the subject matter. Afterwards, ask listeners what they liked about the speech, and if they agree with the speaker's argument.

Adapted from: University of California (2013, March 22). Retrieved from