The term “elevator pitch” or elevator speech gets used a lot in the professional world, but what exactly is it and what does it mean? You’re not trying to educate someone on all things elevators!
Your elevator pitch is a verbal snapshot of you as a professional that is meant to grab your listener’s attention; its goal is to interest your listener enough so that they ask additional questions. So, what type of things should be included in your elevator speech? Let’s break it down:
If You’re New to the Working World
If you are a recent high school graduate or are looking for your first job after college, tell them about why you chose that field of study and how their opportunity fits into the line of work you want to pursue. If you attended college, what experiences/skills did you develop when you were in school. What relevant experience do you have (internship, course work, research projects, etc.) and what are your goals?
Remember, the person you are pitching yourself to is thinking of how you can help them and their business, so you need to frame what you can bring to the table and how you stand out in that mindset.
For Professionals with Working Experience
If you are experienced in your field, the format of your elevator speech should be different than a recent grad. This is because you have acquired specific industry skills and experiences along the way. You will have a better time drawing the connections to your skills and addressing the “why”, but you’re also not pitching to the same types of jobs. Chances are you’re pitching to someone who hears elevator pitches all day, so your challenge will be catching your audience’s’ attention IMMEDIATELY and keeping that engagement throughout your pitch.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Elevator Speeches
Bottom Line: The goal of an elevator pitch is to be persuasive. Think about what is going to spark the interest of your audience. How does what you want to say relate to them and their professional needs? What is it exactly that you’re trying to “sell”?
DO SHARE YOUR SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS
But be careful of how you talk about yourself. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness.
Your elevator pitch should naturally roll off the tip of your tongue, but, again, be careful that it doesn’t sound too rehearsed or robotic.
DO BE POSITIVE.
Remember, this is your first impression with a potential employer (or client).
DO TALK ABOUT YOUR GOALS
But don’t be too specific because you are going to be reusing this elevator pitch for various circumstances and audiences.
DO HAVE A BUSINESS CARD (OR RESUME) READY.
This simple gesture shows characteristics that you possess, such as enthusiasm and preparedness. It’s also a tangible object to trigger the memory of your conversation at a later time.
DON’T SPEAK TOO QUICKLY.
If you’re someone who speaks fast naturally, try slowing it down. Talking too quickly will make it difficult for your audience to process what you just said.
If you practice your pitch before delivering it, getting off-topic can easily be avoided.
DON’T HAVE JUST ONE ELEVATOR PITCH.
Think of the various people who would benefit from hearing your elevator speech and create different versions for those people. For example, you might want to pitch yourself for a position that specializes in sales, another in HR, and another in customer service; those elevator speeches need to be distinguished, different, and specified to the specifics of the role/company.
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An Elevator Pitch that Grows with You
As you grow and develop, your elevator pitch should too! Tweaking your pitch isn’t all about adding more information. Try to remember why it’s called an elevator pitch; you have a small window of time to make a big impression, so keep it short, sweet, and powerful. It often helps to make a couple of versions of an elevator pitch and take the best parts from each. With this final version, you will be sure to wow your next potential employer!