The Elevator Pitch; Riding Your Way to Success

By Andy Darnley

Most everyone has a dream employer that they would like to work for. This employer is one that would likely offer them an enjoyable work environment, excellent pay, and the ability to perform the job for which they are trained. Despite knowing who their dream employer is, people may not know what to do or say should they briefly run into them by chance. When looking for a job, one should imagine such an encounter that lasts only a few minutes and takes place at a networking event, a party, or even in an elevator. In imagining this scenario, a person should ask themselves what they would say in such a short period of time. How would they make the best impression? The answer is to create an elevator speech or pitch. Before a person can write out an elevator pitch, however, they must understand exactly what it is and why properly preparing and delivering one can be of great benefit.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short persuasive speech that a person uses as a way to introduce and market themselves to a prospective employer. It is not a speech that one reads from a card; instead, it should be a thoroughly memorized and practiced pitch that outlines a person’s experience and credentials. It is called an elevator speech because it should be brief enough that it only takes the length of an elevator ride to deliver, about 60 seconds. Because it is so brief, it should be tightly written and thought out so that it has a central theme and hooks the listener.

Why Do You Need it?

In most fields, when a person seeks employment, they face a significant amount of competition. For every job opening, employers are faced with an onslaught of applicants. As a result, it is highly important that individuals have a way to stand out from others so that they aren’t at risk of being overlooked. By having a prepared elevator pitch, a person can make the most out of every encounter, planned or otherwise. When an opportunity arises, they’ll have well-thought-out answers that highlight their skills and value as a potential employee in the best light possible. It shows that they are prepared and ultimately leaves employers with a positive impression that may encourage them to review one’s résumé and even grant an interview.

Content

When preparing an elevator pitch, content is everything. Because it is so brief, it must be concise and to the point. A person should state their profession, what their competencies and skills are, the environments or types of business where they’ve worked or wish to work, and any special strengths that make them a better candidate than other individuals who may be interested in working for the business in question. Special strengths can be additional skills, certifications or licenses, or an accomplishment that adds extra value to the person as a potential candidate. The elevator pitch can also be used to mention a person’s goals. One’s elevator speech should ideally avoid the use of jargon, with the exception of industries where its use reflects one’s knowledge of the industry. Even in those cases, however, it should be used wisely and sparingly.

Delivery

Regardless of how much thought has gone into an elevator pitch, poor delivery can destroy any advantage and may cause more harm than good. The best thing that a person can do is practice their pitch repeatedly and while looking into a mirror. They should practice their tone so that it is conversational yet projects a natural confidence. Practicing also ensures that the pitch stays within the desired 60-second time span, and the mirror helps to ensure a friendly and open facial expression.

Whether a person finds themselves facing their dream employer or any employer, they should always be professional in their presentation and practice proper etiquette. This includes introducing themselves, offering their hand for a handshake, and maintaining eye contact as they speak. By introducing oneself, a person is helping to establish a connection between their name and their face. This is important even if an introduction was made at an earlier time. One should also avoid speaking too quickly or rambling. Instead, the pitch should be delivered in a clear, well-paced speaking voice.