You have just commuted to work, and are on your way up the elevator. It’s a normal day, until the CEO of the company you’ve always wanted to work for steps on the elevator. To break the silence, they ask you “So, what line of work are you in?”
This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. If this conversation goes well, you could walk out of the elevator having broken the ice with someone who could open doors in your career. But what do you do in this situation to make an impression?
In this guide, we’re going to talk about elevator speeches: the concise introduction that is used to make a first impression. We’ll walk through what elevator speeches are, why they are important, and what they should include. We’ll also explore an example of an elevator pitch that you can use to inspire you when you start writing your own.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short speech that gives the person who you are talking to an idea of who you are, what you do, and what you want to do in the future.
Elevator pitches are named after how long it takes to travel a few floors on an elevator. It usually takes under a minute to get to the floor you need to be on in a building.
Elevator pitches are used in a wide range of contexts. Often, they are used to pitch products or services to prospective clients. In the professional world, they have become a common tool used to sell yourself to prospective employers and networking connections.
Why Should I Have an Elevator Pitch?
There are a few reasons why you should have an elevator pitch prepared.
If you end up in a situation where you are close to someone with whom you want to talk, having an elevator pitch is a good way to break the ice. You won’t have to think about what you are going to say, or what is worth mentioning: you’ll already have a pitch that you can give to the person who you are talking to.
Elevator pitches can also be used to introduce yourself in a job interview.
When you walk through the doors into an interview, one of the first things you’ll be asked is to give a brief introduction of who you are. For instance, you may be asked “tell me about yourself” or “I’d love to hear more about your background.” If you have an elevator pitch ready, you’ll be able to make a strong impression as soon as you start your interview.
What Goes Into an Elevator Pitch?
There are three main questions that your elevator pitch should answer.
#1: What do you do?
To start your elevator pitch, you should provide a brief description of who you are and what you do. In this part of your pitch, you should discuss all the work experience and skills you have which are relevant to the listener.
Suppose you are talking with a prospective employer. You may want to mention the work experience you have in their industry, and discuss a few of your main accomplishments from your last role.
#2: What makes you stand out?
Elevator pitches are your chance to make a good first impression on someone. If all you do is list out your accomplishments, the person with whom you are talking may lose interest.
You need to have a hook: something that makes you stand out. What is it about you that you want the other person to remember? What makes you different?
Suppose you are a salesperson with a strong work ethic. You could talk about how that work ethic helped you boost sales by 15% in the space of two quarters in your last job. This is a fact that the person with whom you are talking is likely to remember.
#3: What are your goals?
Toward the end of your pitch, you’ll want to bring everything you have said together. This will help you create a more cohesive narrative that is easy for the person with whom you are talking to remember.
The best way to do this is to end by discussing your main goals. What do you want to accomplish in the future? What drives you to accomplish these goals? Answering these questions will give the listener an indication as to why you are so passionate about your work, and help you end off on a high note.
Your elevator pitch should be its own story. Rather than listing off accomplishments or ways in which you stand out, you should try to weave everything together. Make it clear why you are mentioning each accomplishment, and link all your past experiences to the goals that matter most to you right now.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to consider your audience. The pitch you give to a prospective employer will be different from the one that you give to the person who you met on an elevator. Before you give your pitch, always think about how you can help another person—don’t rush into thinking about how they can help you.
How to Prepare an Elevator Pitch
Preparing an elevator speech is a good way to make sure that you cover all the main points you think will convey the best image of who you are and what you have accomplished.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing an elevator speech.
First, you should consider all of your accomplishments and skills, then note down the ones that you feel are particularly important to you. What jobs have you held that paint a good picture of who you are and what impact you have had on businesses in the past?
Once you know what you want to include in your pitch, you should go through the above questions and try to answer each of them. Come up with a few reasons why you stand out, and practice weaving everything together into one single narrative.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to prepare your elevator pitch is to practice as much as possible.
Practicing will help you memorize the key points that you want to mention in your pitch. Ideally, you should try to practice with a friend, coworker, or family member. These people will all be able to give you feedback on your pitch so that you can refine it before giving it a shot on a prospective employer, client, or professional contact.
With that said, you should avoid memorizing your pitch exactly. You may have a few key points that you want to highlight, but the last thing you want to do is seem like you are reading from a script. Remember, different people may need to know different things about you, and so writing a one-size-fits-all script and memorizing it is not a good way to approach preparing an elevator pitch.
The person with whom you are talking will likely be able to tell if you are reciting a pre-written script, and this is not the impression you want to leave. When you are delivering your speech, be natural, and make sure that you don’t sound too robotic — people want to talk with you as a person.
Keep it Simple
Elevator pitches don’t need to be complicated. In fact, you may only have thirty seconds or so to deliver your pitch (again, that’s why it’s called an elevator pitch!).
When you are preparing your elevator pitch, you should make sure that you keep it concise and simple. Only use words that you think the layperson will understand — never assume that the person with whom you are talking will know about everything you mention.
As you practice, keep asking yourself: do I need to mention this piece of information? If not, remove it from your pitch. You want your pitch to be clear, and mentioning too much information will only make it more difficult for the listener to develop a good understanding of who you are.
Elevator Pitch Example
Below is an example of an elevator pitch that you can use to help inspire you as you write your own. In this example, the person giving the pitch is talking with a hiring manager and is interested in hearing about whether they have any open positions.
Hello, I’m Mohammad. It’s great to meet you. I am a salesperson at SoftWeb Tech, where I have acquired five years of experience selling CRM software to local businesses. In this year alone, I have been able to exceed my sales expectations every month, and have won “Salesperson of the Month” three times.
Your work at ABC Web is really interesting, especially your design-driven approach to building software. I would love to talk more with you about whether you’re hiring for any sales positions.
Elevator pitches allow you to introduce yourself effectively to other people.
In an elevator pitch, your goal should be to inform someone on who you are, what makes you unique, and what your goals are. This information will give the listener all the relevant background they need on who you are, which will help you break the ice.
But elevator pitches are not just about what you say. You also need to present yourself well. Be confident in sharing your elevator pitch, and act like a professional. Focus on the other person, and be engaged in every word that you say, and every word that they say.
Once you’ve written a pitch, you should practice it as much as possible. This will help you iron out any rough patches, and prepare for the real deal. Your elevator pitch may be what helps you land your next job!