Four key points in drafting an elevator pitch

The term, “elevator pitch”, is jargon for a one-minute explanation of who you are.  It’s termed that because the length is typically the time it takes a person to ride an elevator; 30 to 60 seconds. Whether you are looking to sell yourself as a potential employee, sell a product or service, or collect information about a career, everyone needs a pitch.  An elevator pitch allows others to quickly zero in on the value you bring and understand your focus so they can help you reach your goal. It is something you can use while answering a question about yourself in a job interview or during any networking situation.

Photo of man and woman in a meeting for drafting an elevator pitchHowever, before anyone can help you, you need to understand yourself and what you bring to the table. You are the expert on yourself, and having a basic understanding of who you are is the key to creating a powerful pitch. Remember, no one knows you better than you, so it is your job to market yourself effectively. Your pitch will vary depending on your experience and networking situation. There are four basic parts to an elevator pitch and with a little practice, your message will come across as well thought out and professional. Here are the four parts you need to consider when preparing:

Know who you are:

It’s always best to begin with your name and current position, your educational background and any degrees you have or may be pursuing. This is also a good point to add any certifications or licenses.

Example: “Hi, I am Jane Smith and I’m a senior at Post University. My major is accounting with a concentration in legal studies.  Eventually, I hope to acquire my CPA license and work for a large corporation.”

Always remember to have a smile on your face and show enthusiasm for yourself. Without enthusiasm, others will not want to listen to what you have to say. Eye contact and body language also play an important role. If you come in contact with someone and they ask you who you are, put down the cell phone and give them the attention they deserve. It is only professional and courteous.

Talk about what you can offer:

Be able to discuss your expertise and how it can benefit an employer.  By understanding what your most notable past accomplishments are and what makes you a valuable candidate, you create a persona of someone with confidence and determination. You want to give examples that would make the listener excited to ask more questions.

Example: “Last summer I completed an internship with ABC Accounting Firm and I am hoping to find a second internship with a law firm for my final semester.  I’ve always had an interest with the legal field and I hope to be able to learn more about contracts and legal procedures regarding corporate business.”

Understand what makes you unique:

In this portion, you want to name some valuable skills you have and what results can you produce better than anyone else. Think of the areas of expertise you have in a subject or field. Whether it be a subject you have been studying in school, or a project you worked on during winter or summer break, think of what those results produced and how it may have set you apart from others. We all have things that we are good at. It’s all a matter of thinking about it and formulating the words eloquently.

Example: “I’ve maintained a GPA of 3.8 while attending school full-time and working a part-time job. Because of that, I feel my organizational and time management skills could benefit an employer. I am also currently the vice president of the Accounting Club and have volunteered on numerous occasions for local charities across Connecticut.”

If you have any awards or accomplishments related to your area of work, include those as well.  Anything you can think of that show you as a competent go-getter will set you apart from others and prove your worth.

Be able to share your goals:

By this point in your speech, your listener will either begin asking you questions or you can conclude your pitch with what your goals are.  Never be afraid to ask for the next step. In addition, it’s always best to have a personal business card handy. In the event you are stopped and you have to use your elevator pitch, you can conclude with a business card and a request to further the conversation.

Example: “I feel that this has helped me with my communication skills and I am hoping you might have an internship available at your firm, or know of anyone who may be looking for someone with my background. Here is my business card.”

In conclusion, you never know when you might come in contact with a person who can help make a difference in your career.  By fine-tuning your pitch, you can formulate an intelligent, informative elevator pitch that will convey your professionalism and desire to succeed. Think about a “wow factor” that can help you stand out from the crowd and use that to catch the listener’s attention.

Career development is a never-ending process and so is your pitch. Depending on the situation, you may have variations. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you need to constantly re-evaluate yourself. To be effective, you need to understand what you have to offer an employer in terms of experience, skills, accomplishments and goals.  Use that information to form a powerful pitch and you will always look prepared when faced with a networking opportunity.


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