So what exactly is an elevator pitch?
In a nutshell, it’s just what it sounds like: a short, 30-60 second well-crafted business pitch telling someone who you are and why they should want to hire you.
As nerve-wracking as it is to literally pitch yourself to a colleague or role model, that’s not what makes coming up with a great elevator pitch so difficult.
The tricky part is coming up with a concise yet cohesive story about yourself that is accurate AND positions you to get what you want, whether that’s a job offer, a business card, or just a firm handshake.
Here are a few methods that can help you connect the dots:
- Say as little as possible.
Here’s what I mean. An elevator pitch isn’t your whole life story, and it isn’t even the highlights. Instead, it’s the 1-3 things you want to emphasize about you and your ambitions.
Cater your elevator pitch to the situation you’re in as much as possible. If you’re at a tech conference, it might not be the best moment to talk about your Etsy shop, and if you’re talking to a blogger you admire, it makes more sense to focus on your own blogging goals than last night’s football match.
Instead of overwhelming listeners with your whole story, only include the parts of your story that are relevant to the specific situation.
- Decide what you’re looking for.
What are YOU interested in? What response do you want from the person/people you are addressing?
Before you can write an elevator pitch that will help you reach your goals, you need to know what those goals are. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to portray yourself in a way that makes sense.
For example, if you really want to be a web designer, you should emphasize the web design work you already do rather than spending a lot of time on the dead-end job you want to ditch. And if you want to be a data-driven marketer, talk about your marketing background and how excited you are about data before you mention the 5 years you spent as a banker.
- Figure out who you’re talking to.
In the same way, you should cater your elevator pitch to the specific situation, you should do as much as you can to craft your pitch based on the person you’re talking to. Your elevator pitch is only valuable if the person you’re talking to understands it.
So don’t throw a ton of developer acronyms at someone outside the tech industry, and on the same token, don’t over-explain Facebook marketing to a social media marketing pro.
- Ask yourself what problem you solve rather than what you DO.
So, instead of saying you’re a customer service specialist, say that you communicate with customers and keep them happy throughout their experience with your brand.
Or, instead of saying you’re a copywriter, say that you help entrepreneurs and businesses create content that converts users into customers. (#gbam !)
- Describe what you do in one day.
If you’re ever thrown into a situation and weren’t expecting to need an elevator pitch at the ready, a good fallback is to describe your day-in-the-life. So rather than saying you founded a nonprofit, say that you create opportunities for underprivileged girls to learn to code.
- Breakdown “big words”.
And on that same note, rather than saying you help girls “learn to code,” say you help preteens learn HTML and CSS. More details are more memorable.
- Be quirky or unexpected.
Use an unusual word to describe yourself or tell about your unique talent or passion. If you feel like your elevator pitch is a little dry, try adding a memorable personal detail for some flair. For example, you might say that you’re a’ madman’. Okay, that might have been a stretch, but I think you catch my drift. Pique the interest of the listener early in the discussion.
- Take something out!
You don’t have to say everything relevant at once. If you’re interesting, they’ll ask for more. Start with 1 or 2 tidbits about yourself and see what makes the person say “Ooooh, wow!” You’ll figure out what they’re interested in, and then you can share more information according to their interests.
- Turn it into a conversation.
For example, if you are an email marketer, try something like:
Them: “What do you do?”
You: “Do you get any email newsletters from different brands you’ve purchased something from?”
Them: “Yes, I get SO many Dangote emails!”
You: “I work with brands to write email newsletters that will make you buy something again, and not unsubscribe.”
Them: “Oh wow! What a wizard! You’re hired!”
So, there, you have it. These 9 points would help you craft a killer elevator pitch that would have people begging to hire you. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple and exciting. In case you are looking for some more inspiration, take a look at the following examples.
Examples of career situations, with elevator pitches to match.
When you’re a business developer
Sample elevator pitch: I am a storyteller, my overall goal is to tell my clients story better than anyone else. I have a background in Business Administration and project management, this has helped me understand the businesses of my clients. I work with businesses from different sectors of the economy helping them increase their bottom-line.
When you’re a stay-at-home mom that does web design.
Sample Elevator Pitch: I’m a web designer who’s making the Internet a more beautiful and positive place! My background in counseling helps me understand what the bloggers and small business owners I work with need. And, thanks to working in administration AND now being a stay-at-home mom, I’m great at coming up with solutions, no matter what you throw at me.
When you’re multi-talented
Sample elevator pitch: I’m an analog and a digital artist. I use my fine art and tech skills to design beautiful website experiences and develop projects ranging from creating art to creative brainstorming.
When you’re transitioning out of the corporate world
Sample elevator pitch: I’m a multimedia artist. I do photography, film production, and web design and development. And, luckily, I come from a corporate background, so I have the research and management skills to develop projects like the multimedia blog I just launched.
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