How to Create Your Elevator Pitch

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Young woman in her twenties practicing a speech, symbolizing how to create your elevator pitch by GradSimple.

Time to Read: 7 minutes

In the fast-paced world of professional networking, having a compelling elevator pitch can set you apart. This brief, persuasive speech is your chance to impress potential employers, mentors, or collaborators in under a minute.

TL;DR

  • Craft a compelling narrative: An effective elevator pitch introduces you, showcases your unique value, and engages the listener within a minute, setting the stage for future professional relationships.
  • Personalize and articulate value: Blend clarity, personal connection, and a clear value proposition, tailoring your message to the audience to make your pitch memorable and impactful.
  • Avoid common pitfalls: Ensure your pitch is specific, concise, and delivered confidently, avoiding generic statements and focusing on a clear call to action to invite further dialogue.

Understanding the Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that introduces a person, communicates their value, and aims to spark interest in their skills, project, or idea.

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

In other words, its your personal sales pitch, short enough to be shared in the span of an elevator ride. It’s a tool for anyone looking to expand their professional network or articulate their personal brand.

The Ingredients of a Great Elevator Pitch

Creating a standout elevator pitch involves blending several key components:

Infographic on the key ingredients of how to create your elevator pitch by GradSimple.
  • Clarity and Brevity: Your message should be clear and concise, distilling your essence into a narrative that can be easily grasped within 30 seconds.
  • Personal Connection: Begin with a hook that personalizes your pitch. It could be a brief story, an interesting fact about your background, or a passionate statement about your professional aspirations.
  • Value Proposition: Clearly articulate what you offer. This could be your unique skills, experiences, or the outcomes you’ve driven in past roles or projects. Highlight what makes you an asset.
  • Call to Action: Conclude with a specific request or question that invites further dialogue, such as asking for advice, expressing interest in a job opportunity, or suggesting a follow-up meeting.
  • Adaptability: Tailor your pitch to the situation and audience. The way you present yourself might vary depending on whether you’re speaking to a potential employer, a peer in your field, or a mentor.

Crafting Your Elevator Pitch – A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating an impactful elevator pitch requires thoughtful preparation and a clear structure. Here’s how to piece yours together, step by step:

Step 1: Start With Who You Are

Begin by introducing yourself in a way that’s both engaging and informative. Mention your name, your major or professional field, and a spark—a unique tidbit about your interests or passions related to your field.

Example: “Hi, I’m Jordan, a digital media major with a knack for storytelling through visual arts.”

Step 2: Highlight Your Achievements or Skills

Next, dive into what you do or what you’re studying, but focus on an achievement or skill that sets you apart. This could be a successful project you’ve led, a significant improvement you’ve contributed to, or a unique skill set you possess. Make sure to quantify your achievements when possible to add credibility.

Example: “Last semester, I spearheaded a group project that increased our class blog’s readership by 50%.”

Step 3: Showcase What Sets You Apart

Now, articulate what makes you unique. This could be a combination of your experiences, your approach to problem-solving, or how you apply your skills in novel ways. This part of your pitch is your value proposition—why someone should be interested in you.

Example: “I combine my passion for graphic design with data analytics to create visually compelling stories that resonate with diverse audiences.”

Step 4: Conclude With a Clear Call to Action

Wrap up your pitch with a clear, specific call to action or question that encourages further conversation. This shows you’re interested in engaging with the listener beyond the elevator pitch and opens the door for future opportunities.

Example: “I’m looking for an internship that allows me to further develop my digital storytelling skills. Do you know of any opportunities in your network?”

Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Finally, practice delivering your elevator pitch until it feels natural. Rehearse in front of a mirror, record yourself, or pitch to friends and family to get comfortable with your delivery and make necessary adjustments based on feedback.

Examples of Elevator Pitches

To bring the above steps to life, let’s look at a few examples tailored for different backgrounds:

For a STEM Student:

“Hello, I’m Alex, an electrical engineering student fascinated by renewable energy solutions. I recently collaborated on a project designing an efficient solar panel system, which won us the university’s innovation challenge. My goal is to contribute to sustainable energy projects that tackle climate change. Could we discuss potential research opportunities in your lab?”

For a Humanities Student:

“I’m Sam, a history major passionate about digital archiving. Last year, I interned at the City Archives, where I helped digitize historical documents, making them accessible to a wider audience. I’m eager to explore how technology can further preserve our historical legacy. Do you know of any projects or organizations that focus on digital preservation?”

For a Business Major:

“Hi, I’m Mia, a business administration major with a focus on social entrepreneurship. I’ve been involved in a startup that aims to provide affordable educational resources to underprivileged communities, leading our marketing efforts to increase awareness and funding. I’m looking for mentorship to navigate the challenges of growing a social enterprise. Would you be open to sharing your insights over coffee?”

Tips for Delivering Your Elevator Pitch

Delivering your elevator pitch with confidence and clarity is as crucial as its content. Here are some tips to ensure your pitch not only sounds good on paper but also resonates with your audience when spoken:

1. Know Your Audience: Tailor your pitch to the listener’s interests and background. A pitch to a potential employer in the tech industry might emphasize different skills or experiences than one to a mentor in academia.

2. Be Authentic: Authenticity is key. Speak genuinely about your passions, goals, and what you bring to the table

3. Use Positive Body Language: Non-verbal cues are powerful. Maintain eye contact, use open body language, and smile to convey confidence and approachability.

4. Practice Out Loud: Rehearse your pitch multiple times to get comfortable with your delivery. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, or pitch to friends to refine your tone, pace, and body language.

5. Adapt and Improvise: Be prepared to modify your pitch based on the situation and feedback. The more you practice and use your pitch, the better you’ll become at adjusting it on the fly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even well-prepared elevator pitches can fall flat if certain pitfalls are not avoided. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

1. Listing Achievements Without Context: Instead of merely listing achievements or skills, weave them into a narrative that demonstrates your impact and how you apply your abilities in real-world situations.

2. Being Too Generic or Vague: Specificity is crucial. Avoid generic statements that could apply to anyone. Tailor your pitch to highlight what makes you unique.

3. Overloading With Information: While it’s tempting to include all your accomplishments, too much information can overwhelm your listener. Focus on one or two key points you want to communicate.

4. Lacking a Clear Call to Action: Conclude your pitch with a specific request or question. A vague ending can leave your listener unsure of how to respond or what you’re seeking.

5. Ignoring the Importance of Delivery: How you say something is as important as what you say. A monotone delivery, speaking too quickly, or failing to make eye contact can detract from your message.

Bottom Line: How to Create Your Elevator Pitch

A great elevator pitch is clear, concise, and compelling, reflecting both your achievements and aspirations. It is your chance to make a memorable first impression, articulate your value, and initiate meaningful professional relationships.

Keep honing your pitch, stay authentic, and be ready for the doors it will open. For more expert insights, tips, and tricks, subscribe to GradSimple!

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The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

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