classic elevator

6 steps to a killer elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is the term used to describe a very short, to-the-point way of selling something. If you’re looking for a job, you can use an elevator pitch to sell your skills / experience / potential to someone who might help you into a job.

You need to do this in a very focused way and in less than 30 seconds. That’s why it’s called an ‘elevator pitch’, because unless it’s a very tall building and you’re both heading to the top floor, you won’t have much time.

Here’s six steps on how to prepare your elevator pitch. Grab a large piece of blank paper or a stack of post it notes and write down thoughts as they come to you. Use dot points rather than sentences, and jot everything down. You’ll sort through it at the end.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Who are you?

The first step is for you to have a frank and honest look at yourself. Unless you’ve done this, you won’t be able to sell yourself to others. Remember to consider all your experiences regardless of where they come from. They might be related to your education, personal life, or past work experience. Ask yourself these questions, and jot down your responses:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I like doing?
  • What have I done that makes me feel proud?
  • Where would I like to be in 5 years’ time?
  • What do I have to offer?
  • What do I want to tell an employer about myself?
  • What positive things would my friends say about me?

girl thinking

Step 2: What do you want?

You need to focus your elevator pitch according to the outcome you want. Let’s say you want the pitch for openings in graphic design and you worked as a barista while studying. There’s not much point in wasting valuable time talking about your skills making a fine cappuccino, is there?

If you have more than one role or industry in your sights, you’ll need more than one elevator pitch. Just as you’d have more than one resume. Write down what you want to achieve from your pitch. Is it:

  • a job offer;
  • a chance to talk about opportunities in the industry;
  • to ask about mentoring; or
  • to find out about work experience or apprenticeship options?

Step 3: What do you have to offer?

People are time poor and they have short attention spans. You have to make it clear in a very short time that you are the person they need. Tell them what you can offer them to help their business. Need ideas about what skills you have or you might need? Read our blog to help you work it out. Add this to your post it notes of ideas.

target audience

Step 4: Know your audience

Always know who it is that you are pitching to and use the right communication style.  Don’t pitch to any hapless, random person who’s only in the elevator to get to the sixth floor. You have to customise your pitch so that you can engage the right person who’s going to help you get to where you need to be.

Make sure you’ve researched who you’re pitching to, their role in the business and their interests. Then jot this information down.

Step 5: Review steps 1 through 4 and draft your elevator pitch

With the above four steps in mind, sort through the thoughts you’ve written down and keep only those that matter. Use a highlighter to group thoughts for each pitch by colour if that helps. Now write out what it is you want to say to the person you will be pitching to for each of your pitches.

Remember, you’ll have less than 30 seconds to deliver you pitch, so keep it short and sharp.

woman and man shake hands while in a lift

Step 6: Practice, practice, practice

There are many styles for delivering an elevator pitch. Do a quick Google search to find a style which suits you. Once you have settled on a style, you’ll need to practice your delivery. You don’t want to sound like a robot, so you should practice by:

  • speaking out loud;
  • speaking clearly and carefully;
  • taking deep breaths and relaxing;
  • standing tall; and
  • smiling.

If you’ve practiced enough to be confident with your pitch, you’ll be flexible in your delivery. If circumstances change or you get an unexpected question you won’t be fazed.

And remember, an elevator pitch doesn’t have to happen in an elevator. You can use it anytime you cross paths with someone who can help you get the job you want or give you the guidance you need. That might be at a sporting event, the local club, at the checkout, or dropping the kids at school.

Now that you have your elevator pitch ready to go, you’ll always be prepared for those chance encounters when you meet someone who can help you with your career.

Images: iStock

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