The dream internship, the perfect promotion, the new position. Imagine yourself quite literally in an elevator when your boss, or your ideal boss, steps in. You have so many things you want to say to him/her, but not even a moment to gather your thoughts. How will you approach this minute-long situation? By perfecting your elevator pitch. Doing so will cause you to revel in the opportunity to show why you exemplify the ideal qualities for any position, rather than make you wish you could step off the elevator.
Continue reading to find out 10 steps to make an impression with your elevator pitch.
1. Seize the moment
Make sure to approach your listener at the ideal moment, looking for verbal and nonverbal cues that demonstrate their receptiveness to your message. University of Florida’s Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication public speaker and listening professor Dr. Lisa Athearn said, “Find the right opportunity and take advantage of it… you should have a good intuitive sense of when the pitch should be given and excellent communication skills.” Figuring out the exact moment to give your elevator speech reveals that you classify as an active and engaged listener. David Prida, a fifth-year UF mechanical engineering major said that he tends to give elevator pitches at professional events, “I usually give them at Career Showcase when I meet someone professionally involved or a recruiter.”
2. Draw the person in
How will you make sure that your listener is in tune to what you’re saying? Grab the other person’s attention by effectively getting straight to the point. The main goal of an elevator pitch is to get to the next step (an interview or a meeting) where you should have the chance to expand on any ideas included in your elevator pitch. “Show that you’re excited in your project and you will build more enthusiasm. Show potential employers that you’ll have enthusiasm for your future work too,” Rachel Harnett, a PhD student and instructor in the Department of English at the University of Florida said.
3. Strongest points first
The content of an elevator pitch depends mostly the person’s goal. However, your strongest points should always lead the conversation. “Starting with a compelling reason gives the listener a reason to tune in,” Dr. Athearn said. Oftentimes, someone won’t get enough time to reach their strongest points unless they lead with them. You can use your strongest points in an elevator pitch as an opening for a longer conversation.
4. Keep it concise
When you proficiently deliver a clear, concise message, you will leave the listener wanting more. Your elevator pitch should serve as a channel into further communication, placing you closer to your goal. In order to leave a good impression and show your speaking skills, be sure to speak concisely without rambling.
5. Demonstrate confidence
Show enthusiasm for your idea and exhibit confidence in yourself. Your mindset should make the other person as invested as you are. Your elevator pitch is the moment to show someone they need you in their office, and in order to convince them, you must portray this mindset. Demonstrating self-assurance will show the other person they could have someone bold and confident on their team. “I’m not a huge fan of the traditional elevator pitch,” said Prida. He tends to introduce himself, establish rapport and then offer to walk the other person through his resume. It is important to deliver your elevator pitch in the way that makes you most comfortable.
Practice makes perfect– right? It is never a bad idea to prepare an outline for a generic elevator pitch because you never know what situation will present itself. If you tend to ramble, it is a good idea to sketch out some main points to stay on topic. You can practice on your own in front of a mirror, videotape yourself or speak to a friend and receive constructive feedback, all with the intention of being comfortable if you have to give an elevator pitch and figuring out what content is the most necessary. “It’s weird to word vomit your entire resume,” said Prida. Sometimes elevator pitches tend to digress, practice helps reduce this.
As much as practice will prepare you, it doesn’t do the whole job. While delivering your pitch, look at and critically analyze the listener’s verbal and nonverbal cues. Do they seem interested? Bored? Confused? Respond by customizing and adapting your pitch in the moment. Harnett said there were times when she encountered a publisher, editor or someone else in her field when she had to tell them her thesis concisely and tailor it to the situation.
8. If you’re asked questions…
If asked a question that you don’t know how to answer, don’t make up an answer. Try to use the opportunity to create a meaningful follow–up conversation. Always show you’re being honest and that you’re engaging for more information. “You want the opportunity to seek out more information,” according to Dr. Athearn.If it is a topic you think you can give a semblance of an answer, use the PREP method.
Position: Give your position on the topic you are discussing.
Reason: Mention a reason you have this stance.
Example: Elaborate on the reason you believe in your position.
Position: Restate your position to ensure you are clear and concise.
9. What not to do
Always maintain a tone of professionalism during an elevator pitch to impress the person you’re speaking to. Regardless of how casual the moment may feel, refrain from speaking in a way that might come across as informal. “Don’t make sweeping assumptions about the person you’re pitching to,” said Dr. Athearn. No matter how much research you’ve done, don’t seem like you know everything.
Still don’t feel quite ready to give your elevator pitch? Watch some videos for further inspiration and then wait for your next elevator ride to masterfully persuade anyone you’re the ideal candidate for your dream position.