Regardless of whether or not you’re actively looking for a new role, your elevator pitch should be a constant in your professional toolkit. It’s the 30-second spiel that essentially summarises who you are, what you do, and why you’re great at your job. The art of an elevator pitch lies in being able to reel it off effortlessly to anyone, no matter where you are.
Why is it so important?
Regardless of whether you’re talking to a stranger in a queue, at a cocktail party or on a plane, elevator pitches can provide perfect strangers a valuable snapshot of your profile. Having heard your elevator pitch, they should be left with an impression of a confident professional who excels in their field. Who knows where it might lead?
These are our five steps to perfecting a winning elevator pitch:
1. Know where you’re going
If you don’t know where you’re going or what your professional goals are, no one else will be able to help you get there. Don’t be shy about your ambitions – both short-term and long-term. Talk to people and ask for advice about how best to achieve them. Only then might you start to see doors opening for you.
2. Write it down, cut it down
Write an A4 page summary of your experience to date, the ways in which you shine in your role, and where you want to be. Read it and then cut out any unnecessary detail (including industry jargon) until you’re down to half a page. Then, repeat until you have a quarter of a page. Once you’re down to the bare essentials, summarise it again in a few key bullets. We recommend including:
• Your most recent role
• At least one key achievement
• Your USP
• What you want to do next
3. Tailor the pitch to them, not you
As an example, it might be quite easy to say, “I’m an office manager with a strong background in financial services.” But consider rephrasing to along the lines of: “I’m an office manager with a track record of identifying operational efficiencies and reducing support staff turnover by up to 25%.” Spot the difference?
4. Practise, practise, practise (and solicit feedback)
Like any kind of job search preparation, it pays to practise. Try a few different variations of your elevator pitch and ask those close to you what their thoughts are. Remember that you’ll need to potentially tailor this to the person you’re pitching to. Your elevator pitch to a senior colleague, for example, might be slightly different compared to that of an acquaintance you meet at a party.
5. Nail it with confidence
Incredibly, a huge number of us are incredibly shy about selling ourselves. We’ll rave enthusiastically about our colleague, our sister or our mentor, but when it comes to ourselves many of us struggle to articulate our strengths. More often than not, this is particularly true of women! If you’re struggling to unearth your areas of excellence, ask those you work closely with for their feedback, and then weave this into your pitch.
An elevator pitch is likely to be a tool you draw from your toolkit at the most unexpected moments, so it pays to be prepared! Practise your pitch to ensure you’re always ready to show off your best self – you never know where it might take you.