An elevator pitch is a short, pre-prepared speech that succinctly conveys your professional background, goals, and skills. It is named so because you should be able to deliver your pitch in the time it takes to ride an elevator (30 to 60 seconds). You can give your elevator pitch to a multitude of individuals--other professionals at a networking event, a hiring manager who asks "tell me about yourself" at the outset an interview, or a recruiter at a hiring event.
No matter the setting, there are some general guidelines to follow when composing and delivering your elevator pitch. Here are some pointers to keep it professional and compelling:
What to Mention
- Experience and/or Education. Beginning your elevator pitch by sharing your experience and/or your education provides context for who you are and what you do. A sentence or two about your current employment and how many years of experience you have in your field should suffice. Alternatively, if you are a recent college graduate with little to no work experience, or you are a professional who went back to school, be sure to state your educational background. Explain why you pursued the degree you did, and how it will help you in your career.
- Goals. Sharing a professional goal provides a purpose for your pitch. Briefly describe what kind of role you are seeking, what you are passionate about, or a career milestone you want to reach. You should avoid getting too specific or long-winded about your goals since you won't have the time, and your listener won't have the interest.
- Professional skills. Your skills are a selling point. Be sure to mention any assets you have that make you uniquely qualified or deeply experienced. For example, you could state that you speak multiple languages or you know the ins and outs of C++ programming. Do not ramble off a laundry list of what you know or what you can do. Rather, explain one or two skills that would make you a value-added contact or future employee.
How to Deliver
- Practice. Once you have figured out what you want to say in your pitch, practice your delivery so that it comes across naturally and confidently. Pay special attention to your pace (don't speak too quickly as a remedy for having too much information in your pitch), intonation (keep your tone conversational, not monotone), and body language (stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile when appropriate). Practicing in front of a mirror will help you see where you need to make any adjustments.
- Read the listener. Your elevator pitch is not one size fits all. Based on who you meet, you may have to tweak what you say to keep your pitch relevant. Exercise your best judgment to determine which skills to highlight or if it is appropriate to use industry jargon. If a certain part of your pitch elicits a response from the listener, follow that lead and engage him/her with questions.
- Keep a business card handy. If your elevator pitch sparks a dialogue, offering your business card is a good segue to keep in touch. It also shows that you are professional and prepared.
A pithy, purposeful, and confidently-delivered elevator pitch will help you professionally introduce yourself and make a great first impression with whomever you meet.
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