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Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a quick synopsis of your background and experience. This speech is all about you: who you are, what you do, and what you want to do. An elevator speech is a great way to convince investors.

Your elevator speech should be brief. Restrict the speech to 30-60 seconds. You don't need to include your entire work history and career objectives. Your pitch should be a short recap of who you are and what you do.

You need to be persuasive. Even though it's a short pitch, your elevator speech should be compelling enough to spark the listener's interest in your idea, organization, or background.

Share your skills. Your elevator pitch should explain who you are and what qualifications and skills you have. Try to focus on assets that add value in many situations. This is your chance to brag a bit — avoid sounding boastful, but do share what you bring to the table.

Practice, practice, practice. The best way to feel comfortable about giving an elevator speech is to practice it until the speed and “pitch” come naturally, without sounding robotic. You will get used to varying the conversation as you practice doing so. The more you practice, the easier it will be to deliver it when you’re at a career networking event or job interview.

Be positive and flexible. You often aren’t interviewing for a specific position when you deliver your pitch, so you want to appear open-minded and flexible. Don’t lead with the stuff you’d rather not be doing. (For example, if you don’t want to travel a lot for work, that’s completely legitimate – but you needn’t volunteer that information right off the bat.) This is your chance to make a great first impression with a potential employer. Don’t waste it.

Mention your goals. You don't need to get too specific. An overly targeted goal isn't helpful since your pitch will be used in many circumstances, and with many different types of people. But do remember to say what you're looking for. For instance, you might say, "a role in accounting" or "an opportunity to apply my sales skills to a new market" or "to relocate to San Francisco with a job in this same industry."

Know your audience, and speak to them. In some cases, using jargon can be a powerful move — it demonstrates your industry knowledge. But be wary of using jargon during an elevator pitch, particularly if you're speaking to recruiters, who may find the terms unfamiliar and off-putting. Keep it simple and focused.

Have a business card ready. If you have a business card, offer it at the end of the conversation as a way to continue the dialog. If you don’t, you could offer to use your smartphone to share your contact information. A copy of your resume, if you're at a job fair or a professional networking event, will also demonstrate your enthusiasm and preparedness.

What Not to Say and Do During Your Elevator Speech

Don't speak too fast. Yes, you only have a short time to convey a lot of information. But don't try to fix this dilemma by speaking quickly. This will only make it hard for listeners to absorb your message.

Avoid rambling. This is why it's so important to practice your elevator speech. While you don't want to over-rehearse, and subsequently sound stilted, you also don't want to have unfocused or unclear sentences in your pitch, or get off-track. Give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to interject or respond.

Don't frown, or speak in a monotone way. Here's one of the downsides to rehearsing: it can leave you more focused on remembering the exact words you want to use, and less on how you're carrying yourself. Keep your energy level high, confident, and enthusiastic.

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