An elevator pitch is a statement, a short description of about 30 seconds, that introduces yourself, an idea, or a concept. The best way to think about an elevator pitch is to think about how well you can pitch anything within the timeframe of riding an elevator, hence the name elevator pitch. This pitch should leave an interesting and memorable experience with the other person. It needs to explain what makes you, your organization, your product, or your idea. The key is to distinguish yourself uniquely within these 30 seconds and at the very least, by the end of giving your elevator pitch, you want to have made a connection or impression on your audience.
Elevator pitches are good to practice and have ready at any time to market yourself. A well-developed elevator pitch is important because it can assist you in getting your point across while making it easier to ask to stay connected. In any instance, you never know what event you will be at where you are introduced to a prospective job opportunity or new networking connection. For this reason, you want to identify the type of elevator pitches you might need. Knowing when to use an elevator pitch and for who, can help you develop the different ones that cater to your audience. Types of elevator pitches you might practice include:
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No matter what type of elevator pitch you are preparing and practicing, every elevator pitch should contain the same five common elements. Your pitch should be delivered with a special combination of enthusiasm and strong and eloquent speaking. Pay attention to the following components:
You might be wondering how to integrate each of these elements and what should be included in your overall statement. Keep each element in mind, while reading and developing how you would write your elevator pitch.
Similar to practicing for an interview, or preparing to share who you are with someone else, understanding yourself, your business, or your product, is a critical part of creating an effective elevator pitch. To effectively deliver this message, self-reflection is a good first step. When reflecting, try and understand what it is that you are trying to introduce, why it is important to you, and why you are motivated to pursue this idea. By understanding, your motivation and purpose you will be better prepared to present yourself in a confident way that accurately represents why you are giving the elevator pitch to begin. The following questions are the most simple parts, that should be integrated into an elevator pitch, for it to be effective:
Who am I?
What do I do?
What do I ask?
These questions are surface-level responses that better exhibit what should be addressed in the elevator pitch. In each question, we can learn how to properly tie together our knowledge, skills, and experiences. This goal will then illustrate to our audience how our abilities prepare us for what we are trying to pitch forward.
To answer “Who am I” the best way is to pick adjectives that begin to describe you. Try and imagine yourself from a third-person perspective. How would another person describe who you are? Create a tailored list, that is appropriate to the audience you will be addressing. In this list, include qualities that can be fitting for the position. For example, in a professional networking situation, a chemist shares “ I am a baker and a researcher.” Her passions show she is detail-oriented with an understanding that everything in the recipe impacts the final result. In research, every detail in the experiment can drastically change trends, patterns, and final conclusions. This example, exemplifies her field concentration, along with her cocurricular activities, creativity, and personality. These are all great traits, which can potentially make anyone a stronger candidate.
When answering “What do I do,” you want this part to build off of your “Who am I.” When you get here, focus on one to two items that will remind your audience who you are. Please keep in mind you have 30 seconds. Proceed by sharing the skills and experiences that drive your career focus. Make sure you are answering what you do, and why you do what you do. Consider how you can make a connection with the person by sharing a deeper level of how you understand your career. Share your goals and priorities that inspire and propel you forward in your position. For instance, our chemist shares “my ability to write recipes has contributed to my success in writing research protocols that accelerate protein refolding. By developing my biochemical understanding of the body I can contribute to advances in the medical field.” What has been demonstrated here is both skill and passion. Your skills and passions are valued components that should be answered in this section. To better understand each, skill specifically answers “What skills will you bring to the job or internship positions, and how did you gain them?” Passion or value answers What do you care about that drives your career goals, and interests, or inclines you to pursue your field?
It’s more valuable to end by asking a question because it leaves room open to start a conversation. Ending with a question, more often, is extremely valuable, because it shows you care about making a connection, at minimum. The question could be simple, such as a request for advice on how to develop in the field. It could also be a request that requires further exchange of sharing information. You could also ask for their contact, which you never know when you will need. If it seems reasonable, sharing with your audience why you want to connect with them, or why you are at the event and chose to speak with them, could all be helpful moments that open more possibilities. For instance, a student getting ready to graduate shares with a company they want to work for “I am at industry night seeking a career in biotechnology manufacturing. Could you please share with me about your company, and if you have any opening positions in this line of work?”
🔬 Watch: Sample Elevator Pitch
If you are more interested in creating a marketable elevator pitch for a product or service in the business world, you might consider reframing your elevator pitch. While the same principles apply to the outline above, you should pivot to address the value of your company. Questions you should instead discuss include:
What is the company?
What does the company do?
How do you do it?
Who do you do it for?
Answering this question is similar to responding to, “Who am I,” but is more relative to who the company is and what it is they do as a company. For a startup, you might answer what the company's product/service/ idea is that is being proposed and offered.
After a short statement of who the company is, you should explain why the business is valuable. In most cases, explaining the value and need for your business would include stating your business value proposition. Focus on answering what makes your company unique and why the user needs it.
Responding to how this product is accomplished can be short and sweet. It should be simple and reflect how you achieve your marketable product. For example, you might say “High technology for simple features,” very similar to how Apple markets its products.
Perhaps the second most important aspect of a business elevator pitch is showcasing who your product is for. Choose one specific target market and include this market in your elevator pitch for the product. Many examples can be found in slogans, like “America runs on Dunkin.”
Keep it brief
Remember, you just have a few short seconds to deliver your message. There will be time for sharing more information after you win over your audience. With a great elevator pitch, there is potential for your audience to gain interest in you, which might lead to a follow-up conversation. Before this can happen, earn your way into a follow-up conversation by making a good first impression. First impressions matter and your elevator pitch will pave the way for the rest of the audience's experience with you.
Target your Pitch
Also, keep in mind that each event you are attending will have a different focus. There are events catering to business startups, alumni networking events, college fairs, and industry nights. These are only a fraction of the types of events you might find yourself at. Once you know the kind of event you are attending, practice an elevator pitch that supports and aligns with the event, you are attending. For example, for a career fair you should expect to meet with hiring managers. Your elevator pitch should, therefore, share your experiences in your field, the position you are looking for, and why you would be a good fit. In comparison, if you are networking with startup investors, your elevator pitch might focus more on what the company does, why it is valuable, and what you have accomplished as a startup.
The first few times you try and introduce yourself through an elevator pitch it might feel unconventional. Giving the elevator pitch, you might feel awkward, you may not know where to begin, and feeling anxious or overwhelmed by the idea is not unusual. That being said, if you practice you can only get better as you begin to get comfortable with sharing your elevator pitch. A tip of advice when practicing, practice your elevator pitch with those you don’t mind messing up with. Of course, you should try your best, but let’s pretend you are at an industry night. There are small-scale companies and large well-known companies. You absolutely know which company you want to work with, so start practicing by giving your elevator pitch to the companies you care about less. Then, you can work your way up, becoming better at giving your elevator pitch and speaking with the company. Save your top three companies for last, and slowly become comfortable with your award-winning elevator pitch. This approach, might not guarantee you a perfect pitch, but it sure will help you avoid practicing on your top company of choice.
Have an ask:
One other note, always give the person you’re talking with a way to be helpful. This helping hand can be through sharing information or making professional contact, letting the other person know how they can help you is always an advantage. As explained in “What do I ask,” having an ask could leave room for more conversation. It also sets up the type of impression you are leaving with your audience. By having an ask you are expressing your interest. It could also be helpful to do your research beforehand, so you are knowledgeable in carrying the conversation forward.
It is always helpful to gain a new connection! It benefits you to be handed their business card or be asked to connect on LinkedIn. Secure the connection, and then you can use email or LinkedIn to follow up. When following up, remind the person of the context in which you met. You might reintroduce yourself in three short sentences. Then thank them for speaking with you and what about the conversation you had that intrigued you or led to you pursuing to follow-up? After setting the tone, find a way to ensure that you have started a conversation.
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