- An elevator pitch introduces who you are and where you’re going.
- An effective elevator pitch could mean the difference between standing out as an interesting, viable candidate and getting lost in the shuffle.
- Here’s how you can craft the perfect elevator pitch for any situation, from networking brunches to Shark Tank.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
First impressions are formed in the first seven seconds of meeting someone, by making eye contact, smiling, and introducing yourself.
In the following seconds, you have the chance to make your elevator pitch and introduce who you are. In high-stakes situations like job interviews, the way you present yourself in a short period of time could mean the difference between standing out as an interesting, viable candidate and getting lost in the shuffle.
“Most people can’t present what they’ve done effectively,” Paul McDonald, a senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half, told Business Insider. “They’re not used to giving sound bites of what they do.”
1. Know exactly where you want to go.
Your elevator pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? You need to know exactly what you want to achieve or no one can help you get there.
“Take your resume and LinkedIn profile and go through it thoroughly,” McDonald said. It helps to have consistent experiences that show gradual growth toward a goal to answer the implicit “why” associated with each of those questions — why do you do what you do? Why are you looking for a particular opportunity?
Even if you’re currently unemployed, you can still have a direction you want to take your career based on your previous experience or current aspirations.
2. Bullet point it.
After studying your resume and LinkedIn profile, write down four bullet points that explain the direction you want to go, McDonald said. Think about the most relevant aspects of your work history, background, skills, and accomplishments, that pertain to your goals. Make sure that each bullet relates back to your core message.
3. Tell them a story.
People love stories, McDonald said, so tell them a story. It also makes it easier for others to remember you later on. Just make sure it isn’t too long, or self-indulgent. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to deliver your core message.
Self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie said in his book “Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business” that our minds are essentially “associate machines,” which means we remember things better when there’s a story or association attached to the subject. In other words, if you want people to remember you, tell them a story — and make sure it’s good.
4. Eliminate jargon.
When you think about your elevator pitch, remember your audience. The best rule is to explain things simply and concisely.
Simplifying complex ideas is a “real art,” according to McDonald. A good strategy is to imagine explaining what you do to your parents and using a similar formula in your elevator pitch. Making sure your pitch is in layman’s terms is especially critical for those in accounting, finance, and technology.
5. Make sure it invites conversation.
Your pitch shouldn’t lead to a dead-end — the listener should feel compelled to continue engaging.
If the conversation halts when you stop talking, you should work on changing your pitch to be open-ended and relevant to your audience.
6. Time yourself.
You should respect your listener’s time. Make sure that you’re telling the cleanest version of your story possible by timing yourself. Try to set a limit of 30 seconds.
Toastmaster’s world champion of public speaking, Aaron Beverly, prepares his speeches by recording then listening to himself over and over again throughout the course of a year.
“A lot of people do not like to hear themselves, but I will definitely say that it is the most invaluable way that you can improve your public-speaking skills and your storytelling skills,” Beverly previously told Business Insider.
7. Record yourself on video.
Your body language gives away what your words can’t. In 30 seconds, you want to make sure that your words and actions form the best impression possible.
Taking a video of yourself practicing your elevator pitch could further refine the best gestures and expressions you need to reinforce your ideas.
Evaluate yourself critically: Are you interesting? Are you believable? People will come to their own conclusions while listening to you so make sure you give off a good impression. Relax, act natural, and get comfortable with your story.
8. Pitch it to your friends and colleagues.
After you’ve got your story down, practice your elevator pitch with friends and colleagues. Ask them to give you feedback, but be thoughtful about how you apply it.
Beverly doesn’t apply style-related feedback, because it’s important to him that he presents in a manner authentic to who he is, not who the other person thinks a public speaker should be.
The choice of what you incorporate is up to you. Keep practicing and tweaking your pitch until it comes naturally.
Vivian Giang contributed to an earlier version of this post.