Photo via: Manpower
Does the phrase “So, tell me a little bit about yourself”make you forget everything you’ve ever known, including your own name, like it does for me? Then this is the perfect read for you! A vital skill that doesn’t always get comprehensively taught in college, is how to sell yourself. As many of us are soon to be young professionals, this aspect of the job market can be one of the scariest, and most difficult to navigate. Regardless of where you believe your career path will take you, being able to leave a lasting impression is a tool that could benefit everyone. Whether you're presenting an idea, networking, or interviewing for a job, a well thought out elevator pitch could save you from being tongue-tied in a professional environment.
What Is An Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a brief persuasive speech that informs the listener who you are, what you do, and what you are looking to accomplish, either by speaking to them, or in general. Elevator pitches should be no longer than 90 seconds in length, which equates to no longer than a paragraph when written down. The name elevator pitch was coined because the idea behind your speech is that it should be as long as a ride in an elevator from the bottom floor to the top floor. Think executive summary, not full memoir of your entire work career, and personal life. Your elevator pitch should keep the person listening engaged, leave room for an open conversation, and hopefully leave the listener hungry for more information.
How To Create Your Elevator Pitch:
As mentioned, elevator pitches have a variety of purposes, so the content of your elevator pitch would vary depending on what you are looking to accomplish. It may take a couple of different versions of your pitch before you land on one that is simultaneously compelling and natural. Make sure to write out your pitch before practicing it verbally, that way you can continue to reference it, and you won’t forget it. Follow these steps to create an elevator pitch that is perfect for what you're looking to achieve.
Step 1: Set Your Goal
Before beginning to draft your elevator pitch, you need to think about what your intention is. Are you pitching your novel to a publisher? Are you talking with potential future clients about your company? Are you introducing a new product to potential investors? Or, are you trying to promote yourself to potential employers? Identifying your goal will have a major impact on how you write your elevator pitch, so take time to think about it!
Step 2: Introduce Yourself
Though this may sound self-explanatory, the beginning of your elevator pitch should start by simply stating your name. We must remember that giving an elevator pitch is a human interaction, you don’t want to come across as a memorized robot. Take a moment to say something along the lines of “Hello, my name is …. It’s nice to meet you! I’d love to tell you about myself, is that okay with you?” Don’t forget that the other person is there! Give them the opportunity to respond to you. Do not say your name then immediately dominate the whole conversation with your pitch.
Step 3: Describe What You Do
If applicable, take time to explain your current work situation. This is the perfect time to talk about what sets you apart from others. Instead of speaking in broad terms, focus on what exactly you do that makes you valuable, and unique. How do you solve problems, and make the lives of the people you work with easier? This portion of your elevator pitch is the ideal opportunity to show off your skillset, and speciality. Be sure to include any statistics that emphasize your expertise.
Step 4: Explain What You Want
Why are you pitching to this person in the first place? Do you want them to invest money into a project you're working on, or get a job from them? Be honest about what you’re looking for, and how the listener plays a role in your vision. Keep in mind that when asking people for something, they may have questions for you in return. Be prepared to answer any questions that could possibly be thrown at you.
Step 5: Include A Call To Action
This portion of your pitch will set up what will be done with the information you just shared. Will you be contacting them to continue talking further? Will they be contacting you when a position opens up? Don’t leave anything up in the air, or up to the other person's discretion. Create a concrete plan of how you will move forward from here with the listener in the moment. That way you leave actually accomplishing something, instead of just leaving a good impression. This is the perfect time to exchange contact information, and to thank the other person for listening to you.
Step 6: Consider What Your Body Language Conveys
How you say your pitch is just as crucial as the content. You don’t want to appear pre-planned, even though you are. An important aspect to consider is what your body language says about you. Body language is the way you communicate your feelings through your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and movements. You may think that body language is not noticeable or important but, it’s a significant indicator for your comfort, confidence, and interest. If you're feeling extremely nervous, it will convey in how you stand, and speak. With practice, you can control your body language to project assurance, and calmness. Some tips to maintain effective body language include; considering your posture, restlessness, and expression. Make sure to stand up straight, keep your chin up, and shoulders down. Keep in mind that nervous habits, like leg tapping, show the other person you are anxious. Try your best to avoid these by taking deep slow breaths. Be cognizant of your facial expressions. You should maintain eye contact, smile, and nod your head to show that you are attentive to what the other person is saying. You want your enthusiasm to be noticeable! Even if the listener of your pitch doesn’t remember all of what you said, passion is hard to forget.
Step 7: Practice, Practice, Practice!
The only way you will improve is by practicing. Critically edit your drafts of your elevator pitch. Cut any unnecessary information, broad information, repetition, and complicated jargon. The goal is to be understood easily, not to confuse. When you feel satisfied with your draft, practice your speech out loud in front of your mirror. When you feel like you’ve memorized your pitch verbatim, try it out on some family and friends. Then when you feel confident, and comfortable ask for an objective third party opinion. Even though family and friends can provide some great insights, their bias may be too strong to criticize you, even if you really need to hear it. Practicing can also help you subdue your nerves, to avoid talking too fast.
Unfortunately, the old saying “You only have one chance to make a good impression”, is very accurate so let’s make every opportunity count!