Imagine that you’re in an elevator, and just before the door closes, the CEO of the company you’re dying to work for steps in. It’s just the two of you in an express elevator to the same floor. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to convince the CEO to hire you, and you’re going for it!
But as you start to speak, you’re lost. Which skills do you talk about? Do you talk about your education? Do you focus on your current job or what you want to do? How do you sum up your entire career in the length of one elevator ride?
What Is an Elevator Pitch? Definition & Meaning
An elevator pitch, or elevator speech, is a brief summary of who you are as a professional. It’s similar to the summary of qualifications on your resume or the “About” section of your LinkedIn profile. In 30 seconds or less, you give the listener enough information about your skills and abilities to get them interested in learning more about you.
Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
You may only have 30 seconds to grab someone’s attention, and a well-crafted and perfectly delivered elevator pitch can do just that!
While you may be prepared for some situations (like a job fair), you never know when a fantastic opportunity may come your way, and having an elevator speech puts you in the driver’s seat. As the name implies, you could end up in an elevator with someone who could help you land your dream job, and you’ve got this one elevator ride to “wow” them!
How to Write an Elevator Pitch
The number one rule of an elevator pitch is to keep it short. And because your time is limited, you may be tempted to squeeze in as much information as possible.
However, just like you can’t fit everything on your resume, you can’t include everything about yourself in your elevator pitch. The idea is to hook the listener, so stick to the basics and highlight the top one or two things someone should know about you.
Here’s what to include in your elevator pitch.
Who Are You?
It sounds obvious, but many elevator pitches skip this important step!
Start your pitch with who you are. Many people jump into what they do and where they do it but neglect to introduce themselves. And while the person listening to your pitch may be fascinated with your pitch, if they don’t know who you are, they may not connect with what you’re saying.
What Do You Do?
After you introduce yourself, talk about what you do. You can limit this to your title and where you work, though you can include how long you’ve been in your position if you’re comfortable with that. Save the details about your skills for later in the pitch.
What Do You Want to Do?
This is the “first course” of your elevator pitch. What do you want to do next? You don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but you should give a brief mention of what you’d love in your next job. Do you want to move into management? Learn new skills? Change careers? Throw it in so the listener understands your career goals.
What Are You Good At?
Explaining what you’re good at is the “main course” of your elevator pitch. This is the section you’ll want to devote most of your 30 seconds to, but you’ll also have to pick and choose what you include.
Select one or two skills that explain why you’re good at what you do. Help the listener see why your skills matter and how they add value to your current employer.
What Are You Looking For?
Just before you end your pitch, include a brief mention of what you’re looking for from this particular listener.
This is slightly different than telling someone what you want to do next. Though what you’re looking for could include information about a job, that’s not always the case. You might be looking for a mentor, a new network connection, or an informational interview.
How Do You Connect?
The end of your pitch should include a call to action that invites the listener to connect with you and continue the conversation.
For example, you can ask them to get together for coffee or a phone call. Whatever it is, make it clear you’re asking for their time and that it’s OK to turn you down.
And if the listener can’t get together, give them a way to contact you. You can go old school and hand the other person a business card (paper or virtual). Or, share your email or personal website address if it’s easy to remember. Likewise, you can mention you’re on LinkedIn and suggest connecting there, possibly with you initiating the connection.
Elevator Pitch Examples
Not every situation will rely on the same elevator speech. So, it’s best to have a few ready to go. Here are a few examples to get you started.
My name is [Name], and I recently graduated from [Name of College] with a degree in [Major or Field of Study]. I [talk about any related activities or internships] and am now looking for a job as [title or field]. Can we meet up for coffee so I can learn more about the field?
I’m [Name] and currently work in [name of field or title]. Though I’ve enjoyed the work and honed my skills in [mention a transferable skill that’s useful in your new field], I’ve decided I want to switch things up and work in [name the field or a job title]. Would you be able to meet with me so I can learn more about your success in the field?
During an Interview
My name is [Name]. Thanks for meeting with me today. I have a [name of degree if applicable] and [X] years of experience in [your career field or the job you’re interviewing for]. I’ve [list one or two top accomplishments and how they benefited your employer]. I’m interested in this role because [state what it is that’s interesting about the job].
How to Give an Elevator Pitch
You might be surprised at all the times your elevator pitch comes in handy. But having an elevator pitch isn’t enough. You also need an effective delivery to get results.
Practice your pitch out loud a few times and listen to what you’re saying and how you say it. Do you speak in a natural, conversational tone, or are you speaking in a low, monotone voice that’s hard to understand? Are you speaking too quickly? Too slowly? Are you rambling and off-topic?
Record yourself and listen to it a few times to pinpoint what you need to improve. Or, ask some trusted friends or family to listen to your pitch and give you feedback.
You’re limited to about 30 seconds, which may make you think you have to “speed speak” to get every single word in there. But once you practice a few times, you’ll see that 30 seconds is a lot longer than it seems.
Slow your speech down. You don’t have to go slo-mo slow, but make an effort to speak at a natural pace or rhythm that’s easy to listen to. Again, listening to recordings or having live listeners can help you figure out if you’re speaking at the right pace.
If after several trial runs you find that you can’t fit everything in or are having trouble slowing down, try cutting a few things from the pitch. It’s better to leave a few things out and be understood than cram everything in and be greeted with a quizzical look when you’re done!
When you’re giving your pitch, you may concentrate more on what you’re saying than how you’re saying it.
In addition to speaking in a natural tone and at the right pace, watch yourself deliver the elevator speech in the mirror or watch a recording. Do you maintain eye contact (without staring)? Are you frowning? Do you look like a deer in headlights?
Practice until you look and feel comfortable and confident delivering your pitch.
Make Your Elevator Pitch Short and Sweet
While your elevator pitch may not be “sweet,” it is short and entices the listener into connecting with and learning more about you. Having an elevator pitch at the ready is useful in numerous job search and professional situations. Spend some time crafting a few, so you’re prepared for any situation.
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