How we speak about ourselves matters. Our own thoughts, aka self talk, are the first things we hear about ourselves and they shape our self perception. I mean, what opinion hits harder than the one in your own head? An extension of this is how we speak about ourselves to others. I try to keep my self talk positive but recently realized I might not always extend that into my conversations with others, specifically in the professional space. During my most recent year-end performance review with my boss, she told me lots of great things about myself and my work during the past year, which felt great. I was glad that she recognized the effort I had put into some fantastic work outcomes. Then she said I looked shocked by such a glowing review. And she encouraged me speak up more, share my ideas, and not be afraid to speak well of my work. I took that challenge to heart. I don't want to shortchange myself and I definitely don't want you to, either. So today's post is all about creating and perfecting your elevator pitch.
Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
As someone who balances a corporate career with my own personal brand, I've realized the benefit of having an elevator pitch for each one. In blogging, I get reminders about the importance of being able to describe the impact and value of my work every time I pitch a brand for a new collaboration or review the results of a campaign with a current partner. In a corporate career, though, it's not as in your face. It's easy to become complacent within your work routine and not seek to extend your network or sphere of influence. Don't make that mistake.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short and simple few sentences that describe what you do and provides a window into the value it provides with the goal of making the person listening interested to learn more and, ideally, want to work with you. The term elevator pitch comes from the hypothetical (but very realistic) scenario of getting onto an elevator with your company's CEO or a potential customer, being asked "So, what do you do?" or "What are you currently working on?" and needing to impress or entice them in the short time an elevator ride takes. Having something to say in response and the ease with which you say it can go a long way.
Create Your Elevator Pitch
Start your elevator pitch by introducing yourself. Share your name and job title, if necessary. From there, drop in your tagline. If you need an example of a tagline, here's mine for Dash of Jazz:
I create appealing, accessible content that helps busy women master the art of adulting.
And here's my professional tagline as a Diversity & Inclusion Advisor:
I drive strategy that fosters inclusion and leverages a diverse and changing workforce.
The tagline is the starting point that tells the other person what you do. You can think of your elevator pitch as an extension of your tagline. From here, you'll want to include a few more components and deliver them in a succinct manner. Here are ideas to consider incorporating into your elevator pitch.
- What you're currently working on
- Something you've recently accomplished
- How your work is linked to overall strategy
- How your skill, experience, etc. is driving the success of a project
- The expected impact/outcome of your current work
- One or two of your SMART goals
Careers change over time. You might have just provided stellar results on a project. Or maybe you are in the planning stages of something that will solve an important problem. Pick one or two items from the list that are relevant to where you are now.
The last step is to close it out with a call to action. This is typically a question that gauges the other person's interest and/or asks for some kind of follow up. That can look like exchanging business cards and requesting a more in-depth discussion. It could also look like asking for time to get their perspective on what you've shared. If you do your elevator pitch well enough, the other person will be asking you for the follow up!
Tips for Mastering Your Elevator Pitch
- Tailor the elevator pitch to your audience. This requires you to put some thought into who you want to talk to and what would interest them. Flexibility is key.
- Keep it brief. This should be just a few sentences long and about 30 to 60 seconds in duration. Remember the original context of an elevator ride. Time yourself, if necessary.
- Practice makes perfect. If you don't dust off your elevator pitch until you need it, your chances of nailing it are slim. Stack the odds in your favor by practicing. Practice in the mirror. Practice with a friend.
- Update it as you need to. Our careers--including our goals, and experience change over time. You'll likely use your elevator pitch more often than your resume so keep it fresh and don't wait until you're actively looking for a new opportunity.
This exercise should help you focus on what you're doing well and help you articulate that to others. Get your self talk in order then don't be afraid to let other people know what you're working with! As always, thanks for reading!
P.S. More career hacks: