7 Tips For Creating The Perfect Elevator Pitch (+ Scripts)
“Developing an elevator pitch is one of the most empowering steps we can take toward our overall wellbeing…”
Back when I was job hunting — hell, back when I was online dating — I always dreaded the obligatory question, “So tell me about yourself.” For me, the Star Wars opening crawl would enter my head, and, for a time, only word vomit would spew out. But as with most things, I learned from experience and also learned more about myself. Odd yet charming ramblings evolved into a measured dialogue exchange as I matured as a speaker. And somewhere between graduating from college and becoming a career coach, I got over the discomfort of being asked about myself. In short, I mastered my elevator pitch.
And if you’re like a former version of myself, you may be thinking, “Ugh, that thing we had to do in a public speaking class? How archaic. No thanks.” And for a good reason, it can, and often does, feel contrived. But actually, developing an elevator pitch is one of the most empowering steps we can take toward career wellbeing. It will ultimately lead to new opportunities, cultivated connections, and lead our greatest self-advocacy. From acquiring new business to advocating for more money, to introducing yourself to someone you admire — it all starts with your elevator pitch (even if you don’t realize it).
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a condensed synopsis of who you are as a professional and the value to those you serve. It’s the who, what, when, where, why of your professional journey and aspirations. As most of us learned from high school teachers and college professors, an elevator pitch is called such because it should be “short enough to present during a brief elevator ride.” An elevator pitch is memorable, concise, and leans insight into your professional past, present, and future when executed correctly.
And let’s just get one thing out of the way — no, this isn’t exclusive to elevator rides or professional settings, for that matter. Similar to negotiation, I would argue that we’re pitching all the time.
…When on a first date with someone we matched with.
…When we’re hoping to return an item to customer service without the receipt.
…When we’re at a networking event and trying to cultivate a connection out of thin air.
Further, I believe the elevator pitch comes back into professional play when we are submitting a resume or cover letter, introducing ourselves in an interview, conversing with leadership at a social event, or speaking during a compensation performance review.
And while practice will always make perfect, here are my best tips for developing an elevator pitch you’re proud of.
“No, this isn’t exclusive to elevator rides or professional settings, for that matter. I would argue that we’re pitching all the time.”
How to develop your unique elevator pitch
Though the concept of an elevator pitch has been around likely longer than elevators themselves, it remains to be a blindspot for countless professionals and job hunters. Most assume the words they stitch together for an elevator pitch need to be jargon-heavy and dry, which ironically leads to an awkward fumble of filler words, pauses, and insincerity.
Here’s the good news: you don’t need to be anything other than yourself. You lead with facts when creating an elevator pitch. I recommend sitting with yourself and jotting down your answers to the following questions.
- Who are you, and who do you help? Don’t overthink it. This is answering the basics: what’s your name, job title, and who is your client.
- What is your why? Aka, what is your purpose or driving motivator for your job? And if your most honest answer is “paying my bills,” then ask yourself, “What topic could I talk about for hours and/or feel the most experienced in?”
- Connect it back to them. Here, you’re essentially answering the question, “Why should they care?”
- What is your call to action? What is your ask, or what do you hope comes from introducing yourself?
Or, what I think of as the “who, who, why, why” sandwich. Who am I; who do I serve; why should you care; why I’m pitching to you.
Examples of good elevator pitches
- I’m Sabrina, a marketing coordinator at X Company by day and podcast host of ‘My First Rodeo’ by night. On the show, I help fellow first-generation college graduates transition into adulthood with honest conversations on personal finance, mental health, and social justice. We recently launched a virtual mentorship program for high school girls, and I would love to connect with local county schools to enroll students, promote our program, and have a safe space for young women to talk and prepare for “the real world.” If you’re interested, I would love to set up a time to talk next week. How does next Tuesday work?
- I’m Michael, a former D1 athlete (Go Bucks!) turned high school basketball coach at ABC High School. After retiring as a player in 2010, I returned to the court soon after to coach rising stars the applied techniques and mental toughness needed for the game. Most recently, I helped ABC secure its third championship in the district. I’d love to speak with your local business about a potential partnership or sponsorship. Who should I connect with to discuss a collaboration?
- I’m Alex, a DEI consultant specializing in leadership development. After receiving my Master’s in Human Resources from ABC University, I worked at HIJ Consulting for three years as an Associate Consultant. Though I enjoyed the work, I saw a need for more focused work in the DEI space, so I worked alongside the leadership to develop an L&D roadmap for all executive leaders. In 2019, I left to start my own consulting firm, ALX Consulting. Through a client-consultant relationship, I can identify areas for growth and improvement, examine imminent threats to your organization, and develop a 2-year plan for increased employee retention and engagement.
- I’m Kayleigh, and I recently graduated from ABC University with a degree in communications. Inspired by my love of reporting and community activism, I hope to launch a career in journalism covering socioeconomic inequalities within our local education system. The City Morning News has been a consistent source for updated information; I especially enjoyed your series on how the pandemic affected teachers. I would love to bring my experience and eagerness to the newsroom as an intern. I would love to learn more about the application process and the steps I can take to secure an interview with the team!
“An elevator pitch is what I think of as the ‘who, who, why, why’ sandwich. Who am I; who do I serve; why should you care; why I’m pitching to you?”
Tips for saying it or writing it with confidence
Sometimes you’re writing your pitch; other times, you’re speaking to someone at an event. Regardless, you’ll have to practice and find your rhythm to get comfortable with your elevator pitch.
Here are my best tips for feeling more confident when pitching. (I feel like there’s a Pitch Perfect pun in here somewhere.)
- Record yourself and set a timer. I advise clients to record themselves for a few reasons. First, you’re able to see what your body language is signaling when you speak and just how many filler words you’re using. More importantly, the timer allows us to realize how long we can talk without a plan in place.
Going outside of pitches for a moment, I was nervous I wouldn’t have enough things to say to fill an episode when I started podcasting. I wouldn’t prep a script because I assumed I didn’t need it. But during the editing phase, I got to hear just how much I rambled and talked in circles when I didn’t have a script.
- Pitch yourself regularly. Our hope is that you’re not always looking for a job, but there are plenty of other times you pitch yourself. (P.S. mastering this part will help you with negotiations later!) Pitch yourself if you want to write for a blog you admire. Reach out to someone if you’re looking for a mentor, to be on a podcast, or even inviting someone to a virtual coffee. Hell, if you do nothing else, practice pitching yourself when you’re stuck in traffic.
- Pretend you already have the “yes.” This is something that has worked for me. Before interviews, I pretend I already have the job and am going to an offsite event. This mindset shift allows me to step out of an “inferior complex” (please give me this job, sir) and step into an equal, peer-to-peer mindset. (Hi, it is a pleasure to meet me.) It’s a more mature version of “pretending everyone in the audience is naked” advice.
Jazmine has been a contributing writer for The Financial Diet since 2015. While her spending habits have changed over the years, her advocacy work surrounding social change and mental health has not. She hopes her writing and activism can empower all women to occupy their space at work — and everywhere else. Outside of TFD, Jaz (as she likes to be called) is a career coach, full-time writer, and a plant + dog mom residing in Dallas, Texas. She spends her “fun money” on trips to Trader Joe’s, throw pillows, and white wine. You can follow her Target shopping adventures here, and learn more about her at JazmineReedClark.com.
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