Persuasively and succinctly selling yourself to a potential employer can be tough. If they know nothing about you or your subject, it can be hard to settle on a starting place. Whether you're giving a marketing presentation, negotiating for a promotion, or taking part in a job interview, there's one request that's sure to be made of you eventually: "Give me the elevator pitch."
Defining the elevator pitch
To best grasp the concept, interpret the name literally. An elevator pitch is an extremely short, persuasive speech delivered in the length of time it would take to ride an elevator with somebody.
No matter how much nuance you wish you could include, keep these succinct. This might mean limiting yourself to several sentences or a certain number of seconds. No matter how you measure, your pitch is only an elevator pitch if it is truly brief.
When you'll need to deliver an elevator pitch
Again, there are countless everyday scenarios in which it's important to convey information quickly. Selling yourself to potential business partners, bargaining for a cheaper price on a car, or even talking your way out of a traffic ticket might be easier the more you practice quickly delivering compelling ideas. In terms of one's career, all workers have one area in common where mastering the elevator pitch is a sure pathway to greater success: job interviews.
"Jobs are created or posted by organizations when they have a problem or a need that they need help solving," says National Career Development Association career counselor Lisa Severy. When interviewing or otherwise pursuing a role, she says a good elevator pitch "focuses on what a job seeker offers to employers that may help them to meet those needs."
Being able to rapidly make the case for your value in a business setting can come in handy while networking too, but interviews call for the most concise pitches from us all.
Think of it as a (very short) story
"There's a formula for the elevator pitch that also works for the 'tell me about yourself' question," says John Roccia, director of career services at coaching company Ama La Vida. "Pick a theme. It could be ambition, it could be creativity. Something you really feel is you. Then it's three sentences."
As with any story, Roccia says this elevator pitch method requires a consistent beginning, middle and end tied together by a theme. Your first sentence should establish your theme as an important or formative part of your past. Second is a sentence about your present, indicating what you're currently doing to enhance or develop that thematic trait.
"And then one sentence about your future, before you connect that future to who you're talking to," says Roccia. "Let them see a story and not just a list of skills. There are other people in that elevator. The goal is to be the one they remember at the end of the day."