Whether you are at a job interview, a networking event or a party; you only get one chance to make a great first impression. This is based on your body language, your dress code, your demeanour… But also on how well you sell yourself in your elevator pitch. Not sure what an “elevator pitch” means? In this article, we will tell you what it is and share tips and examples of well-developed pitches to help you write your own.
What is an elevator pitch?
Imagine you walk into an elevator, and you find yourself face-to-face with [insert the name of the CEO you admire the most in the world]. What a lucky coincidence! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put yourself forward and land the job you have always wanted. All you need is a persuasive elevator pitch. “An elevator what?”
An elevator pitch is a memorable, succinct summary of who you are and what you do. As you have probably guessed from the introduction, the name comes from the idea that it should be short enough to be presented during an elevator ride of 30 seconds to 1 minute (or a little bit longer if you’re in a Manhattan skyscraper)!
It can be used in multiple settings:
- Job interviews
- Job fairs and career expos
- Social media (LinkedIn and Twitter bios)
- Networking events and mixers
- Or just casual meetings
Think of your elevator pitch as the super-condensed answer you give to the good old “So… What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself” questions.
That means, it should be all about you: who you are, what you do and what you want to do (if you are looking for a job). It should introduce yourself in a positive and compelling way in order to capture your audience’s attention… And fast!
But how do you go about writing your pitch? Keep on reading to find out.
How to write the perfect elevator pitch?
Think you are terrible at public speaking or at selling yourself? Cheer up, that does not mean you are not capable of writing and delivering a fab elevator speech! We are here to help you feel more confident and get it right. Even though there is no “one size fits all” approach, a good elevator pitch should ideally tick the following boxes:
- Introduce yourself: write a short sentence about who you are and what your role or situation is (e.g., “I’m a sales rep at ABC Company.” “I’m a Data Analyst graduate with 1 year of experience in the financial sector.”)
- State your mission: briefly explain your company/professional goal (“ My goal is to help companies use their data to make more informed decisions.”)
- Share your value proposition: tell the prospect what sets you/your company apart and how you can bring them value (e.g. years of experience, skills…).
- Grab their attention with a hook: pull in your audience with an exciting company story or personal fact/achievement (e.g. “I help companies like yours increase production by up to 40% without additional cost”).
- End with a call to action: close your pitch by saying what are you looking for (e.g. job, job interview, mentorship, advice, recommendation…).
Now that you know what to say in your elevator pitch, let’s focus on how to say it. Here are a couple of tips on how to write your speech :
- Use plain language that everyone can understand, even those whose first language is not English. Avoid technical jargon, unless you are 100% sure your audience will understand it and will consider it as a powerful move.
- Focus on the big picture. You only have about 30 seconds, so what is the main message you want to get across? Try not to get too deep into specifics, as it can drag on the conversation and end up losing your prospect’s attention.
- Let your personality shine. It’s essential to show your personality during your elevator pitch, but whether you’re a quiet introvert or a charming extrovert, you should still convey positivity and enthusiasm.
Got it? Alright, it’s time to get down to the actual writing. Here are a few scenarios to help you project yourself and get your creative juices flowing!
As you write your pitch, you need to make sure you adapt it to the context in which you are (e.g. job interview, career fair, networking event…) and to your recipient’s specific needs. Here are a few examples of different types of pitches to get you inspired!
Scenario 1: at a job interview
Employer: “So, John, could you tell me about yourself?”
John: “First of all, thank you for sitting down with me today. I’m a Python developer with 1 year of experience building applications that run on both web and mobile platforms. I’ve worked with a wide range of clients, both small and large, to build everything from simple websites to more complex, video game apps. I’m a very curious person; I love learning new skills, especially tech skills, and sharing my knowledge with others.”
What makes it a good pitch? It efficiently highlights the candidate’s experience and biggest strengths while also describing an important character trait (curiosity). It clearly screams, “I’m a solid candidate and I will be a great asset to your team.”
Scenario 2: at a networking event
Business owner: “Nice to meet you, Sarah! So… What do you do?”
Sarah: “Nice to meet you too! I am an accountant with about 10 years’ experience, working primarily with small and midsized firms in the digital sector. If your company is ever in need of an extra set of hands, let me know, I’d be thrilled to consult.”
Brief, friendly and professional: this is an efficient elevator pitch for anyone who wants to make a strong impression and win clients in a matter of seconds!
Scenario 3: at a career fair
Recruiter: “What’s your story, Alex?”
Alex: “I’m a data analyst graduate with a strong background in project management. My goal is to help companies use their data to make more informed decisions. After completing a 6-month internship in a top-tier company where my insights helped improve their sales by 20%, I am now looking for a full time position in a large financial firm. I would love to discuss entry-level data analyst roles with you.”
This is an interesting speech for recent graduates or anyone who has switched careers. Instead of spending too much time explaining his career switch, this candidate briefly mentions his background in project management, before focusing on his new area of expertise and competencies (Data Analysis). He even throws in a figure to illustrate his achievement: definitely a good idea to impress recruiters!
You have written your elevator pitch? Great! Now, it’s time to practice delivering it.
Practice, practice and practice some more
It’s a fact: practice makes perfect. Having the best elevator pitch is useless if you are not able to deliver it properly to your audience. The best way to get your tone, pace and overall delivery right is to practice until the “pitch” comes naturally.
Here are a few ways in which you can practice your elevator pitch:
- Practice giving your speech to a friend or a relative. Why not act out a scenario where you would use your pitch with them? At the end, make sure to ask them their feedback on the pitch itself and on your delivery!
- Record yourself using a smartphone recording app. This is great to know whether you’re keeping within the 30-second time limit, but also to adjust your facial expressions and body language.
- Rehearse in different positions and settings. You won’t move and talk in the same way whether you are sitting or standing, in a closed office or in a crowded room. So make sure you are comfortable delivering your pitch in all situations!
After a few practices, you might realize your pitch needs some editing because some sentences are too long or don’t flow well. That’s OK! Keep in mind that your elevator pitch is a work in progress and the more you fine-tune it, the more compelling it will be!
You’ve written your pitch and practiced it over and over again. OK, you’re now ready to step into that elevator… But before you do, here are a few final recommendations:
- Control your delivery, control your speed. Make sure you sound natural, enthusiastic and confident. Try not to speak too fast and give enough time to your recipient to digest the information and interject/respond.
- Modulate the tone of your voice. As you deliver your pitch, vary your tone to emphasize the most important parts of your speech, such as your strengths or your achievements, while keeping your prospect’s attention.
- Always end your pitch with an action. At the end of the conversation, offer them your business card or send them a link to your portfolio/website. If you are at a job fair, you can hand in a copy of your resume or request to connect on LinkedIn. In any case, try to stay in touch as a way to continue the dialogue.
That’s it folks… While a short speech may seem insignificant, it can actually lead to amazing professional opportunities. And because you never know when you will have that 30-second life-changing conversation, it’s best to always be prepared for it!