An elevator pitch is a quick, persuasive sales pitch— one that can be told in about the length of an elevator ride. Many associate elevator pitches with products, services or startup ideas, but it’s also a great idea to have a pitch for yourself as a professional individual. Because of the short length, it takes a lot of work to hone a personal elevator pitch to greatness. Here are eight dos and don’ts to help you craft the perfect elevator pitch for your personal brand:
Do know your audience.
Different situations call for different elevator pitches. For example, your pitch during a job interview will be different from your pitch to a new potential client or new networking connection. Brainstorm situations where you might need different pitches and come up with a list of details that each audience will need to know. You’ll want to tailor your pitch to each individual job interview and employers, for starters. You might also want to make your “pitch” for a networking event a little less self-promotional than one for a client meeting. After all, too much self-promotion can come across in a negative light.
Don’t get too attached to your old pitch.
If you have an old elevator pitch by your personal brand, by all means mine it for details— but don’t get so attached to it that you’re afraid to throw it out. Everyone should be developing themselves professionally and trying to gain new skills, which means that your old elevator pitch will become obsolete periodically. Take a hard look at your existing elevator pitch to make sure that it’s up-to-date. Don’t be afraid to create an elevator pitch for the job that you want, not the job that you have. Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it.
Do use numbers.
In a sea of words (whether verbal or written), numbers stand out. Look back over your past accomplishments and see where it makes sense to sprinkle in a few numbers to quantify your experience. Some examples could be:
- “I have seven years of experience in front-end software development.”
- “My latest digital advertising campaign increased the average lead capture rate by 75 percent.”
- “I doubled the number of sales my department made the previous year.”
- “I’ve led three successful app launches in the past two years.”
- “I saved my company $10,000 in material costs on our latest project.”
Most people can only keep track of one or two numbers in a conversation, so pick your numbers wisely and don’t overload your listeners.
Don’t use jargon.
“I empower teams and help them harness their core competencies to achieve synergies, shift paradigms and move the needle.” Do you know what that means? Does anyone know what that means? Unlikely. It can be tempting to resort to business jargon to make yourself sound smart, but this vague language is so overused that it muddies that conversation and actually makes things less clear rather than more so. There’s nothing wrong with good old meat-and-potatoes everyday speech, so don’t be afraid to just say what you mean. Plus, corporate speak often takes many words to say something when only a few would do, and you don’t have room for that in your pitch!
Do give concrete details.
After you figure out what numbers to highlight, choose what concrete details to include. In your elevator pitch, you want to be as specific as possible without getting into the weeds. So, rather than “I’m experienced in marketing and advertising services” say “I’ve worked with several different clients to launch, manage and analyze pay-per-click ad campaigns on both Facebook and LinkedIn.” These specifics will increase your credibility and show listeners that you really know what you’re talking about. If you have any qualitative achievements that don’t really have a number attached to them, now is the time to show them off.
Once you start planning out your elevator pitch, you’ll probably realize that you have a lot of information you want to cram into it—maybe too much, in fact. Get it all down on paper and then go back and start cutting out everything unnecessary. You do not want to ramble during your pitch. However great your accomplishments are, your listeners won’t hear any of them if they glaze over from boredom first. Keep it short, punchy and interesting, and don’t give your listeners a chance to check out before you’re done.
Do test it out.
You’ve determined your audience, thrown out your old pitch, chosen your numbers and concrete details and deleted any tangents and ramblings. So, you’re ready for prime time, right? Wrong! Now it’s time to test out your elevator pitch on family, friends and coworkers you trust. Explain the purpose of your elevator pitch, run through the final spiel and give them a chance to offer feedback. Try to ask several people for their opinions so you can see if there’s a consensus among them on what needs to be changed.
Don’t wing it.
If you enjoy speaking in public and pitching yourself to new people, you might be tempted to not do any prep work and just wing it instead. However confident you are, we really don’t recommend the improv route. The less prepared you are, the more likely you are to wander off topic, leave out an important detail or bore your listener. You only get one opportunity to make an elevator pitch, so you don’t want to squander it!
Every second matters in an elevator pitch, but with these dos and don’ts, you’ll be prepared to make each one count. Follow these eight steps and you’ll be pitching your personal brand in no time (elevator ride not required).
Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, and running.