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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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 !)

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

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