Craft The Perfect Elevator Pitch

Imagine the CEO of your dream job company just walked into the elevator. You now have 16 floors to make an impression, get noticed, and get hired. What do you say? Do you panic, convinced that this person won’t care, is too busy, too important, or not interested? No! You have from floors 1 to 16 to make an awesome impression. What do you do?

Ok, so maybe this rarely happens in an elevator, but creating a version of the elevator pitch will serve you at many different times in many different ways. Whether it be at a networking event or at a bar, you’ll need a way to explain who you are, what experience you have, and what you’re looking for. The idea is to use it when interacting with someone who can help you identify your next step. Hone the pitch, craft it to something really spectacular, and practice. You want to quickly and concisely tell them who you are, what you do, and what you want.

First: The introduction. Give a warm smile and introduce yourself. Be bold. Extend your hand and make strong eye contact. For example, “Hi there. I’m Laura Eshelman. I wanted to come over and introduce myself.”

Second: What you do. If you don’t have a job yet, describe your area of expertise. Lead with what you do rather than a title. “I tell compelling stories through digital video.”

Third: Your story, the short version. Share a top level of
your qualifications and tailor the experience to what might be relevant to the other person. Share what makes you unique and cater the pitch to how they might benefit from your unique blend of skills and experience. “I just graduated journalism school and am looking for what’s next. I have extensive experience in producing short-form video and would love to find an opportunity where I can put my experience into action for a publisher.”

Fourth: The pitch. This is where you get to the point and specify what you want. Are you looking for a job, an introduction to someone in their network, 15 minutes of their time, or some advice? Make it clear what you would like the next step to be.  “I realize you are very busy, but if I find any job opportunities available on your site, may I follow up with you? How can I be sure we stay in touch?”

The key here is to keep your goal focused, your pitch short, and you have a specific target in mind. You will likely not pitch them right off the bat—it’s always better to ask the other person a few questions and get them talking. If your time is short, do your best to get these four elements of the elevator pitch out and contact information to follow up without being too pushy.

Once you’ve written down your pitch, recite out loud. Share it with your family and friends and ask for feedback. Practice in the mirror. You’ll use this pitch a lot going forward, and you want to make sure it’s exactly right. That said, make sure your delivery is natural, even off-the-cuff. And don’t forget to maintain eye contact.