What is the purpose of an interview? Companies conduct them because they want to know about your experience, education, and character. Different interviewers ask different questions, but their underlying query is the same: Who are you? To answer that question effectively and sell your skills, you can use a special tool called an elevator pitch or elevator speech. You are about to learn what a good and bad elevator speech looks like, and how you can write an outstanding one.
What Is An Elevator Pitch?
According to Time magazine, an average elevator ride in New York City lasts about 118 seconds. Imagine that you happened to enter an elevator at the same time as a hiring manager for your dream job. Using the New York City average, you have just under two minutes to pitch yourself and land the job of your life. What would you say? What would you do? Would the pressure get to you? Would you freeze in terror? In 118 seconds, you can do yourself in or persuade the manager to bring you on board. You will be a lot more likely to win the person over if you have something prepared. An elevator pitch is a brief statement of who you are and what your best assets are. You never know when opportunity will knock. You might bump into someone influential during your next trip to the grocery store or the gym. You should be ready to deliver one at a moment’s notice.
The Three Principles
Before you write your pitch, you should understand the principles behind it. Sometimes, companies have more than one open position, or they consider more than one applicant for the same post. Therefore, each applicant will have a finite amount of time to shine.
- Elevator pitches should be brief. Additionally, interviewers are seeking candidates who will benefit the company and complete job tasks to their satisfaction. If you don’t clearly communicate what you bring to the table, you will fail to impress. Limit your entire speech to two minutes or you may lose the attention of the listener (or arrive at your floor!)
- Elevator pitches should clearly state your skills and potential benefit to the company. Use everyday language because jargon varies from office to office.
- Finally, companies usually favor ambitious candidates who are open to change and innovation. They don’t want someone who just clocks in, half-heartedly performs job duties, and leaves at the end of the day. When you include a personal goal in your pitch, you demonstrate intellectual curiosity and drive. You indicate that you will grow as the company does.
There you have it: elevator pitches should be succinct and show your personal motivation by including a goal. Now, how do you write one?
Seven Steps to a Perfect Elevator Pitch
Step 1: Grab the person’s attention.
If no one is listening, it doesn’t matter what you say. From the very beginning, you need to engage your audience. You might start with a question. (Make the question rhetorical or short answer unless you want to spend the whole ride listening to the recruiter talk about his fishing trip to Maine.) Or, some people just make a witty statement. You might write this opener first, or you can skip this step until you’ve completed the others. For the sake of continuity, let’s imagine you are a job seeker named Renee who has the good fortune of running into a recruiter in the long line of a busy cafe. Will you land your dream job as a copywriter? In each scenario, try to figure out what’s wrong and right with the statements.
Step 2: Who Are You?
Write one sentence that defines who you are and what you do, Most people define themselves by their jobs for the purpose of networking. However, if you think another detail is both relevant and winning, feel free to lead with it. This sentence is the real answer to the question: Who are you?
Step 3: Boil It Down
Distill what you do on a daily basis into a sentence or two. Think of it as your mission statement.
Step 4: Distinguish Yourself
Set yourself apart by explaining how you are unique. Here you can recount how you overcame challenges, implemented new ideas, or otherwise contributed to your company’s success. Don’t forget to consider your audience. What qualities might the potential employer be seeking?
Step 5: Tell Them What to Do
In your next sentences, identify what you want the listener to do. Be specific about what you want to happen next. You don’t have to limit yourself to an interview. Why not ask to take a tour of the company or attend the next employee social event?
Step 6: Organize
Write a brief summary of your speech, using bullet points or a short outline. Arrange your sentences logically and proofread them. Read it over to make sure everything makes sense.
Step 7: Act It Out
Roleplay with an honest friend. Ask her to critique not only what you say, but also your eye contact and body language. Do you seem confident? Are you speaking too fast or too slow? Your delivery will be a key component of your elevator pitch’s success or failure. And don’t memorize your script; the last thing you want to do is sound like a robot.
A chance meeting is a golden opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential employer. But don’t leave what you say up to chance. Practice your pitch beforehand and remember your key selling points. You could land an interview or even a job. At the very least, you will leave a good impression, distinguish yourself from the pack of interviewees, and perhaps get your résumé on file.
A FOX show, aptly titled Elevator Pitch, allows entrepreneurs a few minutes of airtime to pitch their business. Get inspired by watching a couple of success stories, and then get writing!