Imagine this: You’re in an elevator and someone asks you what you do. You’re caught off guard since most people prefer to stare at the elevator floor numbers or doors versus engaging in conversation! You now have 15 floors – or about 30 seconds – to answer his or her question. That’s the essence of the elevator pitch – your go-to messages that explain what you do and how this benefits others. It should be memorable, informative and leave the person wanting to learn more. It should be focused on the listener’s needs.
The elevator pitch is also an essential and highly practical tool (and conversation starter) to help you feel confident in a variety of situations, including:
- Business meetings/new business pitches (where people are often asked on-the-fly to introduce themselves)
- Media interviews
- Networking events
- Trade shows and conferences
- Job interviews
- And, yes, even gatherings with family and friends who may still not know exactly what you do!
Key Questions to Get You Started
How can you craft an effective elevator pitch that tells your story? Here are several thought starter questions to consider. Plus, you should tailor your messages based on your listener, the situation and goal of your conversation – e.g., inform, motivate or persuade:
- What do you do? Leave out corporate jargon. Make what you do relatable and real. Provide a title or role.
- What do you want them to most know about your organization/role?
- How does what you do benefit others or solve problems? Be specific.
- What are your relevant strengths or achievements that benefit others?
- Is there a need or opportunity to extend the conversation? If appropriate – you can provide a possible next step (e.g., share a business card, offer to follow-up)
When you have your elevator pitch in writing, you can practice … and practice again. Remember you only have about 30 to 60 seconds to get your message across. (You can also create a separate elevator pitch about your organization. More on that in a blog post next week .)
Examples to Spur Your Ideas
It may be worthwhile to see elevator pitch examples in order to help create your own. It’s easy to do a Google search on the topic. You’ll turn up lots of examples. Here are two examples that I created:
“I’m John — a food product developer for Zippy’s Pizza, which offers made-from-scratch thin crusts and fresh ingredients from local farmers. I get to spend every day thinking about pizza and how to make it even better. I create and test delicious new recipes and find even more ways to satisfy our customers’ tastes and attract new pizza fans. Did you know there are 55 different pizza restaurants alone in our town? That’s a lot of competition. In the past five years, I’ve helped Zippy’s expand its menu by 25 percent … and boost sales by the same amount. I’m in the business of making customers happy and keeping them coming back for more. Our nearest location is about a mile from here on the corner of Main and Madison! Have you tried us?”
Of course, we can’t all work for pizza chains and create cool new recipes. But what you do is valuable – something your elevator speech can highlight. Here’s another example:
“I’m Cindy, and I’m the office manager for Widget Manufacturing. You may not have heard of our company but our metal fasteners are found in nearly every car on the road and every plane in the air. If you’ve adjusted your seat in a car or plane, it’s because of a gumdrop-sized part that we make at our local plant. I keep everything in our office running like clockwork so that our 500 employees can do their jobs well and fill customer orders. Every day for the past 20 years, I’ve focused on what I call the 4 S’s – supplies, systems, shipments and satisfied staff. Every day is also different, with new problems to solve and issues to anticipate. That’s what keeps me learning, growing and going.”