You know the thing about the elevator business? It has its ups and downs!
Speaking of elevators and business, whether you’re a job seeker, a salesperson, an entrepreneur with a great idea, or simply trying to get a leg up on your career, it pays to perfect your elevator pitch.
What’s an elevator pitch? Thryv’s Derkia Thomas perfectly summarizes the concept as “a 30-second succinct, compelling summary of your business or product. It should include your successes, unique qualities and your target market.” The term comes from a hypothetical situation where you’re sharing an elevator ride with a CEO or someone equally important and you only have the short elevator ride to introduce yourself and what you can offer.
In a world of 280-character messages, having a clear, concise summary of what you can offer is crucial to garner interest and sell yourself, regardless of what you’re seeking from your audience. The exact time and content of your elevator pitch may vary, but all successful pitches feature the following elements.
Before your step foot in the metaphorical elevator, you’ll want to carefully craft your pitch based on relevant research. Understand your industry and your audience. At its core, your pitch should look to examine what your audience needs and how you can uniquely address that need. Business News Daily’s Marisa Sanfilippo uses the example of a gardening company.
“”We’re a gardening company, and we sell pots and plants,” but so do all the other gardening companies. Before crafting your elevator pitch, dig into the details of your products and services. Consider what is unique about your product and what sets your business apart from the competition. Perhaps, for instance, you sell rare heirloom plants and handmade pots from local artists. It is these details that will make your prospects want to know more about your business.” -Marisa Sanfilippo
Being able to find the right niche is the core tenet of how to sell yourself as the answer.
A good introduction
You know what would be devastating? Delivering a successful elevator pitch that garners attention only to be forgotten because the listener didn’t know who you are or how to reach you! Your first impression is the key to starting strong, so open with a polite greeting, your full name, and a summary of what you do.
Nexxt’s Madison Green recommends giving the listener a business card if possible (for an in-person conversation). Not only does this contain all of your relevant information, but a business card can be passed along. Even if the listener doesn’t currently need your services, someone else might, and they can pass the card along.
A clear objective
The timing of your elevator pitch will be concise, roughly 30-60 seconds. In that short amount of time, it would help if your listener knew your objective. MasterClass describes the importance of choosing one goal thusly:
“If you’re trying to sell a product and explain your new small business venture and include your own biography, chances are you’ll end up with a muddled and ineffective pitch. The perfect elevator pitch has a limited scope and is crafted around a single venture or business.”
Whether a quick introduction, one small aspect of your idea you’d like to express, or a quick summary of what you can offer, base your pitch around one idea.
Remember where the term “elevator pitch” derives from. Unless the elevator breaks down, in which case your problems are much bigger than your pitch, you’ll have a short amount of time to deliver your pitch. Thirty seconds is a good base time, but up to a minute isn’t unrealistic. If your pitch is written, it should be a few sentences at most.
A call to action
Any persuasive speech should end with a call to action, and an elevator pitch is no exception. There’s a reason you chose to deliver this pitch instead of talking about the weather or the latest blockbuster sports news. This is the reason we created a clear objective for our pitch—now we can work that into our call to action.
For a short conversation like an elevator pitch, the action may be as simple as setting up a longer follow-up conversation. You’ve said who you are, what you can do, and how you can help their needs. Now it’s time to put the ball in their court.
Lots of practice
Not everyone is comfortable with public speaking or networking, but practice and patience are the keys. The more your practice your pitch, the more natural and comfortable you’ll be, and you’ll get a good sense of timing.
Derkia Thomas points out three elevator pitch delivery “killers”, including speaking too quickly, rambling on, and appearing disinterested. Practice is the key to working these kinks out of your pitch. With a limited time to deliver your pitch, you may speak too quickly to try to overcompensate, but if you focus on the important factors, you’ll set yourself up for success. And don’t be afraid to try timing yourself!
Elevator pitches are versatile and can serve you in many circumstances, and you can have multiple pitches for multiple scenarios. It always pays to be able to provide a clear, concise summary of who you are and what you can do. Being able to describe yourself in this way can build confidence over time, as well. If you follow these tenets, your elevator pitch experience should be filled with far more ups than downs!