Personal Branding: Creating an Elevator Pitch

Who are you? What do you do? Can you answer those questions between floors on an elevator?

Creating an “elevator pitch,” or a description of yourself that is short enough that you can communicate it between floors in an elevator, is absolutely essential to networking and selling yourself.

In our recent medium post about how to network beyond your friends and family, we explained that you can increase your network anywhere. That is, talk to strangers. But what are you going to say to those strangers? That’s what this post is all about.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use them to create interest in a project, idea, or product — or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name.

They should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain what makes you — or your organization, product, or idea — unique.

How do I write an elevator pitch?

There are several key components to a successful elevator pitch.

1. Identify Your Goal

Start by thinking about the objective of your pitch. Are you job hunting? Make sure the listener knows this. What kind of job do you want? The listener should be aware of this too.

2. Explain What You Do

Start your pitch by describing what you do. Focus on the problems that you solve and how you help people. If you can, add a specific example where you succeeded to show your value.

Ask yourself this question as you start writing: what do you want your audience to remember most about you?

Keep in mind that your pitch should excite you first; after all, if you don’t get excited about what you’re saying, neither will your audience. Your pitch should bring a smile to your face and quicken your heartbeat. People may not remember everything that you say, but they will likely remember your enthusiasm.

3. Communicate Your USP

Your elevator pitch also needs to communicate your unique selling proposition or USP. Remember you are like a little company and your product is yourself. Not clear on what a USP is? You can learn all about it and other aspects of marketing at GenM.

What is great about you that no one else has? What makes you unique? You’ll want to communicate your USP after you’ve talked about what you do.

4. Engage With a Question

After you communicate your USP, you need to engage your audience. To do this, prepare open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer) to involve them in the conversation. It’s best if the question has common ground with the listener.

An idea might be “so how did you get into your field?” Think about what his or her response might be and try to start a conversation.

5. Put it all Together

When you’ve completed each section of your pitch, put it all together.

Then, read it aloud and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes. It should be no longer than 20–30 seconds. Otherwise you risk losing the person’s interest, or monopolizing the conversation.

Then, try to cut out anything doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Remember, your pitch needs to be snappy and compelling, so the shorter it is, the better!

6. Practice

Practice makes perfect. Remember, how you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.

Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. You want it to sound like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch.

Make sure that you’re aware of your body language as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, in front of colleagues until the pitch feels natural.

When you’re out shopping look for the longest line and practice your pitch on someone. Start with, “oh I love that brand of coffee you’re buying. I drink it all the time while I work.” Try to change the conversation into what the person does for living. Then there’s your chance! Practice your pitch! Try to make it sound as natural as possible. And hey, you may never see that person again so don’t worry about looking foolish.

As you get used to delivering your pitch, it’s fine to vary it a little — the idea is that it doesn’t sound too formulaic or like it’s pre-prepared, even though it is!

Tips:

According to Jody Greene, it’s okay to sound a bit like you are selling — because you are!

She also says to avoid using any jargon or language that only makes sense to specific people. Describe who you are and what you do to the general public, if the particular person you are speaking to has inside knowledge of the industry you are in, you’ll be able to tell by their reply and then you can pump up the language.

Find out more about how to sell yourself in marketing at GenM.