Five keys to a better elevator pitch
Nothing’s worse than awkward elevator silence, especially when you’re riding the elevator with your company’s CEO, or you’re attending a networking event with association professionals. You stand there contemplating, “Should I say something?” or “How do I introduce myself?” Cue the elevator pitch—a 60-second speech highlighting who you are, what you do, and why you’re the best at it. It’s a tool that graduating college students use in job interviews or at career fairs, but regardless of your career stage, an elevator pitch is a handy tool to keep in your back pocket and whip out to show off your best career-self (and break that awkward elevator silence).
The hardest part of the elevator pitch is crafting your story, and keeping it brief. Certain topics, such as your biggest accomplishment or the project you’re proudest of should be highlighted, while things that can be found on your resume—like your skill set or discussion about your current job or position—should be excluded. Don’t cut time out of your 60-second sell by reiterating your CV. You won’t craft your speech in one swoop – take time to consider everything great you could say about your career path, then pare down the fluff while keeping impactful phrases and experiences in your speech. It’ll take revisions, both during the creation and a few months following. Always keep your elevator speech updated with newly acquired skills and experiences to sell your best self. An elevator pitch isn’t a one-and-done exercise.
Instead of reciting an elevator pitch that goes something like this:
My name is Caroline Dumas, I received my undergraduate degree in marketing from Georgia College. I’m proficient in SPSS, highly trained in Hoot Suite and Google Analytics, and proficient with numerous social media platforms. I’m currently interning with an association solution company’s marketing department and have had the opportunity to work on several projects.
Go with something like this:
I am Caroline Dumas, a recent college graduate with a bachelors of business administration with a concentration in marketing.
Specializing in social media marketing and search engine optimization, I can offer you an innovative approach to social media marketing that increases engagement and generates brand awareness among association professionals.
Having diligently worked with an association during the completion of my undergraduate career, I worked closely with a client to develop an organic social media campaign that yielded incredible outcomes and significantly increased traffic to the association website, as well as fostering a community between the association and other association professionals.
I offer limitless creativity, fast implementation yielding fast results, and exceptional social media marketing and search engine optimization abilities.
I would like to take a brief 20 minutes to discuss my portfolio and the capabilities I can provide to your association.
Here are four reasons you need an elevator pitch, whether you’re on the hunt for a new job or content with your current job.
- Awkward small talk gets old—fast
We’ve all been to a company event where you huddle around your group of work friends to prevent having to make dreaded small talk. Somehow, you get separated from your group either while refreshing your drink or going for a second round in the buffet line. That’s when it happens. You find yourself next to someone for whom you’d like to work, or the CEO popping in for a company-wide event, and you’re lost for conversation pieces. With an elevator pitch stored in your back pocket, you’ll never fear awkward small talk again. Once you finish your pitch, your introduction is likely to facilitate the rest of the conversation. You’ve evaded small talk, and you’ve impressed the CEO. It’s a win-win.
- You never know who you might need to impress
An elevator pitch isn’t strictly for work-related events. Impressing a peer with your expertise is a possibility. You may be at dinner with your spouse’s co-workers, or you’re attending a high school reunion and want to impress your former classmates with how far you’ve come. You can switch up your elevator pitch depending on the circumstance. Instead of telling someone why they should hire you, tell them why you’re the best at what you do at your current job. Know your audience and tailor your speech accordingly.
A friend of mine shared a story she witnessed where an elevator pitch came in handy. While she was out to dinner one night with a friend who is a lawyer, a colleague of her friend walked past the dining patio and stopped to say hello. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked her friend, “Are you looking for another opportunity?” She said no, but after summarizing her caseload and years of experience in her current job – her elevator speech – he pressed her to contact him about an opening at his firm soon. A month later, she had a new position at that firm with a higher salary and a lighter workload.
She was able to quickly and effectively summarize her worth, all with her elevator pitch.
- You might not always have a job
Let’s hope you don’t find yourself in this situation, but just in case, you should be equipped with an elevator pitch, especially if you haven’t been to an interview for awhile. The elevator pitch is the perfect tool to help get you back in the game, and walk out of an interview feeling confident. An elevator speech helps introduce you to a recruiter, showcases your best talents and skills, and opens the door for further questions along lines you’ve opened. You may find yourself at a networking event with an opportunity to speak with an individual representing a company you’d like to work for, or you’re leveraging connections with friends to see who can help you get your foot in the door with a company. Understanding your worth, and conveying your worth in a concise manner to convey in these circumstances may just be the window of opportunity you needed.
- Sometimes, you need to sell yourself, to yourself
We all go through slumps where we’re just not feeling up to our highest potential, and sometimes we need a reminder. If you can sell yourself to a hiring professional, you can sell yourself to yourself. Your elevator pitch is a tool for highlighting your accomplishments and illustrating what you do best. If you’re down in dumps, remind yourself of all the great achievements you’ve accomplished throughout your career and why you truly are the best at what you do.
Whether you’re a college student preparing for graduation or a seasoned professional, an elevator pitch is a resource we should all have handy. You’re set to survive any networking event or job interview, and you’ll never have to fear awkward small talk again. You’ll never know when you need it. Like your American Express, you don’t want to leave home without it.
Caroline Dumas is a graduating senior at Georgia College studying marketing. She is completing an internship with Naylor’s marketing department.