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Elevate Your Elevator Pitch

by Harwant Khush, Ph.D., Research Consultant, Tero International

Elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement are colloquial terms used to describe a concise, compelling, and persuasive speech that is delivered in a short time. It is defined as, "...a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service or project. The name comes from the notion that the speech should be delivered in the short time period of an elevator ride, usually 20-60 seconds" (Elevator Pitch). Creating and delivering a perfect elevator speech should be one of the first priorities of job seekers.

Importance of Elevator Speech

Concisely written and eloquently delivered, an elevator pitch is a vital tool to catch prospective employer's attention. "The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you're with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over." (Seth Godin)

The Elevator pitch is not meant to close the deal or ask for a job, but to create an opportunity to continue the conversation by introducing the prospective employer to ideas or products that would be beneficial and cost-effective to their business needs. The pitch is based on the assumption that employers are not interested in the details during the first unplanned or accidental meeting. The goal is to hear the employers say, "tell me more about it" or "let us meet and discuss it further."

The best opportunities to deliver an elevator speech would be at career fairs, recruiting agencies, networking events, standing in line at the supermarkets, department stores or in an elevator with prospective employers.

Basic Structure and Process of an Elevator Speech

Although it is a short speech, the elevator speech should still follow certain procedures. The speech should have a unique selling point, or rather a hook, to capture the attention of employers, and a focus that summarizes the vital traits and qualities of a job seeker.

To prepare and deliver a convincing speech the job seeker should follow these steps that are outlined in Forbes:

  1. Clarify your job target. Make sure to know what type of job you want, what is your field, and what are you pursuing. Nail it down in few simple words.

  2. Put it on Paper: Write down your skills, knowledge, and abilities that are relevant to the job being pursued. The goal is to have a focus, and clear direction; this is not the time to go into the details. Your language should be convincing and powerful. Writing your speech down helps to edit your speech and get your speech "down to a few key bullet points or sentences."

  3. Format it: A good pitch should answer vital questions such as: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for? It may take multiple revisions until you are clear about your goals.

  4. Tailor the pitch to them, not you. Employers listening to your speech will be tuned to what is in it for them. Focus the message to the employers' needs and how you can help them take their organization to the next level.

  5. Eliminate technical and Industrial Jargon: This is not the time to impress the listeners with technical terms, scientific acronyms and other jargon. Keep the speech simple and straight to the point.

  6. Read your pitch out loud: This is to become comfortable to the language being used, the pronunciation of selected words, and to make sure that pitch does not sound like a commercial.

  7. Practice and get Feedback: Practice it multiple times by yourself, as well as with friends, colleagues, co-workers. Ask for their feedback on the composition, delivery, grammar usage, and pronunciation.

  8. Prepare a few variations: You should prepare the elevator speech with a few variations with minor changes to make sure that it can be delivered to an interviewer, manager, or a prospective co-worker.

  9. Deliver it with Confidence: Verbal and non-verbal communication should project confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. A well-written speech that is memorized and practiced will fall flat if not delivered with poise and self-assurance.

Example of a well-crafted Elevator Pitch

Who are you?

Hi, I am xxx (Name)

hat do you do?

I am a web designer with the XYZ company.

What have you accomplished?

Since I joined it, online sales have tripled and contracts have risen 200%?

What is in it for them?

I want to show you how a website can make a difference in sales as I am exploring opportunities to work in your company

What do you want?

Is it an opportunity to talk further? If you feel it is appropriate and wish to offer your card, say, "May I give you my card?"

Elevator Pitch Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid the following vital elevator pitch mistakes to minimize lost opportunities and regrets:

Preparing the elevator speech properly with a unique selling point that projects knowledge, skills, and abilities is the first and fundamental step for a job seeker. An elevator pitch really looks simple and easy to put together, but it takes time, great effort and lots of practice to make it effective and convincing. It is a vital and basic tool to convey the job being sought, as well as the skills and abilities of the job seeker, to the prospective employer in the shortest possible time. "Get your pitch right and you might soon find yourself riding an actual elevator at your new job." (Forbes)

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