We live in a time where college degrees are common place. More people hold graduate degrees than ever before. You likely work at a company or in an industry where everyone is degreed. The individuals who stand out among the sea of talent are those who are prepared and able to articulate what they bring to the table. They are the ones who know exactly what to say to stand out. They are the ones who leave an impression on those they speak with because they are prepared.
Your elevator speech, or pitch, is the opportunity for you to share how amazing you are. In a not so subtle way it gives insight to why someone should build a relationship with you. It is the compelling (and concise) story you tell to sell you. It is your opportunity to express “Why you?”
Incredibly talented people get the pitch wrong. One way this is accomplished is robotically. They approach the pitch without showing personality. Like a business hostage, they give their name, rattle off the company they work for and the title they hold. Sadly unaware, they are come off as dull and not memorable at all.
Conversely, some people share their entire work history since high school, including that amazing summer gig as a lifeguard. Whether it is because they think every position matters or they are nervous and not paying attention remains unclear. Unfortunately, they say a lot without saying anything worth remembering.
Your pitch needs to be engaging and memorable. Keep it simple enough that an eight-year-old and eighty-year-old will understand. Refrain from using jargon and confusing statements. Remember, people do business with people they know and trust. If you complicate your message you will alienate yourself.
Keep your pitch short and to the point. The idea of an elevator pitch is to sell your product – in this case yourself – during the time it would take to ride an elevator: around 30-60 seconds. This is not a lot of time so the more concise your message, the more impact you will have. A successful pitch intrigues the listener and makes them want to know more.
One way to assure your pitch is memorable is to include the following: something professional, something personal and something unique.
Here is an example of a solid pitch.
Hi! My name is Latrice Johnson. I have been a Registered Nurse at Central Hospital for almost 10 years. I've welcomed babies into the world, and helped restore patients from near death situations. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse, so to live my dream has been amazing. Right now I am looking to move to a teaching hospital so I can help groom new nursing students. When I’m not at the hospital though I love camping and escaping to nature. Work hard, play hard!
In this elevator pitch, the speaker states what she does, gives context and adds compelling imagery to speak to her experiences. She could have very well added a major accomplishment if she wanted to, depending on the situation. She clearly states what she is looking for and why and closes with a personal hobby and sentiment that most people share. This pitch is clear, concise and memorable.
Here is an example of an elevator pitch for someone who recently finished serving his term in the military.
Nice to meet you. I am Thomas Noel. I have served in the United States Navy for the past 6 years as an Aviation Mechanic. I recently ended my contract and have been seeking the next big thing. I enjoyed the adventure the Navy offered but I also really enjoyed the challenges that were brought each day. I am not originally from this area but I am loving it. I’ve already found a place to swing my golf clubs, but I am really looking forward to a new career so I can afford my hobby. *insert laughter*
In this pitch, the speaker identifies who he is as a professional, what he needs and is looking for, as well as a unique interest he has. He has even shown that he has a sense of humor. The person listening to his pitch will likely appreciate his humor and will have an easier time connecting with him. They can quickly determine how they can be of assistance and decide their next step. This layout can also be used for someone who is between positions.
Finally, here is an example of an elevator pitch for a recent college grad.
Hi! My name is Madison Adams. I recently graduated from Texas Southern University with a Bachelors in Finance and Accounting. I've held many leadership roles on campus, including President of NABA. Last summer I also had the opportunity to intern for Shell, participating with the team responsible for vendor accounts. I am very interested in audit and am actively seeking opportunities. I have a lot to offer and am confident I will add value to my next employer.
It might seem challenging to sell yourself if you do not have much work experience, but all of the activities you participate in are valuable. Professionally tied organizations like NABA (National Association of Black Accountants) are very noteworthy, but even organizations that focus on service add value and show your leadership abilities. If you are not involved in organizations, you can share noteworthy classes or other meaningful activities you have participated in.
If you are at an event or a situation that affords you more time to share, the nature of your elevator pitch will vary slightly. This does not mean you go into your history but it does mean that you will need to have more material to talk about. To avoid rambling, have 2-3 highlights about yourself that you would be willing to share. Be sure whatever you share is relevant and memorable. Be smart with your small talk.
Getting your personal elevator pitch down pat will take practice. Stand in front of a mirror and practice. You can also use your cell phone and record yourself. Is your energy attractive? Is your stance inviting? Are you speaking at a reasonable pace? Is your message concise and easy to understand? Are you engaging?
Having a well prepared (without it appearing over-prepared) elevator pitch allows you to walk through the door of opportunity when it opens. Your pitch lets others know what you are about and encourages them to connect with you. Your pitch serves as your personal marketing campaign and you are the marketer. If you do not have your pitch, make one today and practice it daily; you don't want to be caught off guard when opportunity comes your way.