Imagine you and a person you’ve been anxious to meet are entering an elevator. It’s just the two of you and you’re going to the same floor. From the time the doors shut, would you be able to speak succinctly enough about yourself that when the elevator doors open to the desired floor that person will be intrigued enough to want to learn more?
If an adamant yes followed by an exclamation point is not your response, then you need to prepare a personal elevator pitch.
When most people think of elevator pitches, they think of creating a short script with the intended purpose of selling your skills, products, or services, but an elevator pitch can be used for personal purposes. An elevator pitch simply refers to the time allotted to make your impression – 30 seconds or less, or an elevator ride.
To take some of the intimidation out of the idea of a personal elevator pitch, think of it this way, a personal elevator pitch is an introduction. A tool to bring the best aspects of yourself to the attention of someone you intend to connect with. One that is attention-grabbing, memorable, and sparks the interest of the person or people you’re pitching to want to continue with a conversation down the line.
Preparation is the greatest ingredient to success. Billionaire TV mogul Oprah Winfrey once said, “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” You don’t want opportunity to think you wasted its time because you were unprepared when it came knocking.
A well-prepared personal elevator pitch is crucial to have at an industry conference or event where you’ll be meeting dozens, even hundreds of people (Top Tips For Maximizing Your Networking At a Conference), and it’s an equally useful tool to use at weddings, dinner parties or other casual settings.
The first thing to remember about any elevator pitch is that your purpose is to make a maximum impression in a minute span of time. Thirty seconds or less, that’s your timeframe. A poet doesn’t use the same amount of words as a prose writer. Both have different objectives for their target audiences. Poems have less words and lines, yet they still deliver a vivid, unforgettable experience. One can read a good book several times and not get bored. The end game with an elevator pitch is to eventually have a conversation in which you can begin to forge a connection. The conversation is prose. A personal elevator pitch is poetry, but to get to the prose you must master the poetry.
At a networking or public event rattling off your name, occupation, and the name of your practice or where you work simply won’t do. When crafting your personal elevator pitch keep in mind your goal. Ask yourself:
– What is your passion?
– Why do you love what you do or what do you love most about your work?
– What are your values?
– Is there a lesson you learned or something that you do that has followed you throughout your life/career?
– Are there any fun facts about yourself that are interesting enough to grab the attention of the person you’re intending to converse with?
The components to any elevator pitch are:
Identify your goal
Once you answer the questions above, you’ll have a clearer idea of the goal for your personal elevator pitch.
Explain Who You Are
Your passions, values, and why you love what you do.
Communicate Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
This is the attention-grabbing fact about yourself, or the lesson that has traveled with you through your life and career.
Engage with a Question or Present a Takeaway
This can be providing your business card or an open-ended question that requires more than a yes or no answer.
Put It All Together
Should you have difficulty answering the questions that’ll become the foundation for your personal elevator pitch, you can always ask family members, friends, colleagues and coworkers/staff to assist you in coming up with unique points about yourself to present. They know you as well as you do, sometimes even better. Why not pick their brain? They may have an anecdote that may be more effective than your original idea.
President Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The essence of the sentiment is to stress the importance of preparation. You won’t have six hours to chop down your tree, but you can spend time preparing for the moment. Practice your personal elevator pitch and revise it until it flows and gets you excited. If you’re excited about what you’re saying, it will make what you’re saying more enticing to hear. Ask your friends, family and colleagues to listen to your personal elevator pitch and collect feedback. Another tip to remember while practicing is to use a stopwatch to make sure you’re hitting your 30 second mark.
Whether you’re networking at a conference, giving a presentation for your peers, or getting nervous when making introductions, an impression can only be made once. Mastering a personal elevator pitch ensures that the first impression is the right one.