How To Craft a Compelling Elevator Pitch
Man gives elevator speech to sell himself during job interview.

Whether you’re a job seeker or a business leader, conveying your message with clarity and conciseness is an important skill to master. In other words, it’s vital to have a compelling elevator pitch. If you do, you may be able to open doors to opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch can be defined as a short, persuasive speech that outlines an idea, project, product, service, or even a brief bio of yourself. The term comes from the thought that such a speech can be delivered during the span of a brief elevator ride (i.e., between 30-60 seconds). The phrase possibly originated in Hollywood, where aspiring screenwriters would pitch movie ideas to producers as they rode the elevator to or from their offices.

Whatever the actual origin of the phrase, the main objective of any elevator pitch is to capture the listener’s attention and interest. An elevator pitch can be a useful tool in a variety of settings, such as networking, interviewing, or pitching a business opportunity.

Key Elements of an Elevator Pitch

An effective elevator pitch contains the following key elements:

  • Conciseness. The presentation should be short and to the point (generally 60 seconds or less).
  • Clarity. The message should be clear and easily understood. Now is not the time for a lot of details or industry-specific jargon.
  • Engagement. The pitch should capture the listener’s interest. The manner of delivery is critical in this regard.
  • Relevance. The proposal should apply to the listener’s situation.
  • Value proposition. The message should highlight what makes the idea or person unique.
  • Call to action (if applicable). The listener should understand what they can do to learn more or the next steps to take.

As you develop your elevator pitch, keep these key elements in mind; a presentation that contains all of them will be much more effective than one that only includes a few.

How To Craft Your Elevator Pitch: A Step-By-Step Guide

1. Identify your goal

The first step in creating an effective elevator pitch is clearly understanding your objective. What do you want to achieve with your presentation? For example, do you want to secure a job interview? Do you want to gain a new client for your business? Do you want to add a new contact to your network? Make sure you have your goal firmly in mind as you craft your pitch.

2. Know your audience

It’s important to research the person you will be speaking to. Try to determine what their needs and interests are, and how best to approach them. Tailor your message accordingly.

3. Highlight your unique selling points

Identify your key strengths and achievements, and clearly convey them in your pitch. For example, if you’re trying to secure a job interview, highlight why you would be an especially good fit for the open role (e.g., a track record of success in similar roles, advanced training or certifications, years of experience, etc.). Be specific in what you’ve accomplished without going into too much detail.

4. Create a strong opening

Start your pitch with a “hook” to grab the listener’s attention. Perhaps you could ask a compelling question, such as: “Would you like to hire a team member who will contribute to your company’s success?” Or you may decide to use a bold statement, or an intriguing fact. Whatever your personal style is, the goal is to immediately engage your audience with what you’re saying, so they’ll be willing to listen to more.

5. Develop the core message

Your pitch needs to be short and sweet, so it’s imperative that you whittle your core message down to the basics: who you are, what you do, and why it should matter to your listener. Stay focused on the key points of your presentation.

6. If applicable, include a call to action (CTA)

In some situations, you may want to encourage your listener to take the next step after your pitch has concluded. For example, if you’re at a networking event, your CTA may be to connect on LinkedIn. Or if you’re speaking to a hiring manager, your CTA may be to set up an interview.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

As you craft your elevator pitch, there are several common mistakes you’ll want to avoid. For instance, it’s easy to be either too vague or too detailed with your presentation. On the one hand, you want your listener to clearly understand who you are and the value you’re offering; on the other hand, you don’t want to get “lost in the weeds” with a lot of technical details that can be discussed at a later time.

It’s also important to avoid overuse of jargon or technical terms — especially if you’re a subject-matter expert but your listener is not. Your pitch needs to be understandable to be effective.

In addition, don’t fall into the trap of overconfidence by failing to rehearse your pitch ahead of time. If you want your delivery to be as smooth and professional as possible. Practice is essential. 

Finally, don’t use a “cookie-cutter” pitch for all audiences or situations. Adapt your presentation to the needs and interests of each listener.

How To Refine Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch isn’t something that’s etched in stone. You can continually adapt it, adjust it, and improve it. Practice it with peers or mentors, and seek their feedback on how to make it better. Don’t be overly attached to a certain phrase or data point if another one will be more effective.

One of the most common areas for improvement in elevator pitches is body language. Study how to convey confident and engaging posture. Work on maintaining appropriate eye contact, using meaningful gestures, and modulating your voice in order to project enthusiasm and conviction. You may have to make a conscious effort to avoid symptoms of nervousness, like fidgeting or speaking too fast.

In the final analysis, crafting an effective elevator pitch does take a lot of work; but it can open up wonderful opportunities for your career or business. For more help developing an exceptional pitch, reach out to our team at The Doyle Group today.

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