The Perfect Pitch – Elevator Style!
Last year’s family holiday took Joe to New York. Seven days in the Big Apple with wife and kids – Empire State, Central Park, Time Square in the bag, Joe took a little time out to visit an old pal from college days. Riding the elevator up to the 65th floor, Joe caught the eye of the guy next to him and the two exchanged pleasantries - as you do. In the sixty seconds of their ascent Joe skilfully managed to convey his profession, his niche and his unique selling point. At the 65th, business cards were proffered – and accepted. Seven days later our two protagonists networked on LinkedIn. And earlier this year when Joe was made redundant, that brief but powerful meeting spawned an interview and subsequent job offer.
It really did start out as a chat in an actual elevator and serves to illustrate that it is indeed possible to make a lasting impression in the time it takes to go up in a lift, (thirty to ninety seconds). And it’s not just in elevators; the so-called Elevator Pitch is everywhere – in business – in life - informal business encounters, networking events, small talk at the airport, training courses. Any time, any place, anywhere.
The Elevator Pitch: What it is....
The Elevator Pitch is an overview of a service, person, organization, or project. It is often part of a fundraising, marketing or public relations programme or used by the entrepreneur pitching an idea to an investor for funding. But elevator pitches may also be used in many other situations - job interviewing, dating, summarising professional services, book proposals.¹
Better termed an Elevator Speech, project managers, salespeople, evangelists and policy-makers use elevator pitches to make a point. And of course for auditors and accountants, it can form a vital component of their career toolkit when seeking work, projects, new roles or career change.
Your Elevator Speech succinctly describes who you are, what you do, how you do it, but above all conveys, what your skill or service does for others. It is a short and sweet aperitif, a tantalising taste of your expertise, with a dash of personality thrown in for good measure. It’s a taster for the full menu, tickling the taste buds for more.
....and what it’s not
- Your career résumé
- A hurried speech packed with details, jargon, accomplishments
- All about you!
- A deal sealer – it’s actually an opportunity opener!
We’ve all been there....
Take the typical network meeting. You’ve already spoken to loads of people just like you. In the queue for the buffet you suddenly find yourself in plum position to strike up conversation with the FD of an organisation you’ve career designs on. When she asks you what you do, you mumble something about systems audit with Widget Inc, looking for your next career move, longing for the right opportunity, being a hard worker, quick learner, great communicator. In other words you’re just like all those other auditors she’s already met today. If only you’d had the right words to hand when you needed them?
Creating Great Expectations
Real life examples of great elevator speeches are hard to find. Google gives you lots of ‘how to’ articles but very few working models.
So special thanks to Craig Harrison² and Kevin Donlin³ who valiantly gives us these practical examples.
'Hello, I'm Betty Khan - the Global Warmer. I'm a goodwill ambassador to multinational companies seeking to expand their overseas markets. I use my MBA, international work experience and language skills, knowledge of protocol and cheery disposition to deliver clients the world. Here's my card.’
‘I make creative and innovative ideas heard. I'm Carrie R. Wheadon. I write reviews, lay out books, design ads and organize promotional material - sometimes all in the same day. I'm impeccably organized, tolerably opinionated and seek a noble challenge where I can constantly learn. Know of any such openings?'
‘During my five years of helpdesk experience, I've encountered and solved just about every problem imaginable, supporting more than 225 users on the same operating system your company uses - Windows NT. I also saved $23,000 by using pre-owned hardware for our latest upgrade. Before that, I completed officer's training as an ROTC student while earning my MIS degree. This gives me a broader range of technical, leadership and problem-solving skills than typical applicants.’
And there’s also:
- The gardener ‘turning the world green - one garden at a time’.
- The dietician ‘teaching people how to behave in front of food’.
- The attorney who ‘empowers the powerless’.
- The midwife who ‘brings life into this world’.
Get the picture?
Bearing in mind that these elevator speeches were each created for a different context, it’s still quite easy to pick out the general themes and rules. In other words, your Elevator Speech should have the following components and meet these criteria:
- Specific objective relative to the context
- Interesting to the listener
- Tailored to audience
- Suggest a benefit to the listener by translating personal attributes into value
- A ‘hook’ – a statement or question that piques interest and makes your listener want to hear more
- Make an impact and leave a lasting impression
- Invite further enquiry or a call to action
Use the template we provided in Discovering your USP and craft your speech according to the aforementioned rules. Aim for a ‘master’ Elevator Speech but be prepared to adapt for different audiences and to meet different objectives.
Then you are ready to go. Use your pitch at network meetings, on courses, for leaving voicemail messages and as part of your Personal Statement on your CV. As a career tool, this is one of the most versatile, or as one expert quips, ‘The Swiss Army knife of Job search tools’4
This article was written by Carol McLachlan for CareersinAudit.com
²Craig Harrison is a Berkeley speaker and corporate trainer specializing in communication skills, www.expressionsofexcellence.com
³Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes
4Katharine Hansen of Quintessential Careers www.quintcareers.com