Have you ever felt unprepared for a job interview or presentation? Everyone has at one point, but while some might crack under pressure due to that nervous feeling, others will go through with it with no sweat. How do they do it? By keeping an elevator pitch in mind as a guide for what to say and when to say it.
We want you to go in and out of every meeting feeling confident in your performance, so below are some crucial tips to keep in mind when developing an elevator pitch of your own.
First & Last Impressions Matter -
Before any major meeting, it’s important to remember that what sells your ideas or skills is how you present them. Many candidates before you likely went through similar experiences and will present themselves in the same way. This is why in order to appear unique right off the bat, you want to nail that first impression. According to the Primacy/Recency effect, our brains tend to recall the beginning and the end of any story, and that same logic can apply to your elevator pitch. Just like any movie or TV show, you want those first few moments on screen to hook as many people as possible while ending it in a way that leaves the audience wanting more. Apply this same mindset when developing your pitch, and you will leave any meeting or presentation knowing you kept your audience interested.
What I like to do is to start the pitch off with something I know is unique to myself, maybe telling a short story of how you overcame a problem or what led/inspired you to follow a specific profession. This will help develop a more personal connection between you and the audience, providing them with a good idea of what type of person you are right at the start while peaking their attention.
Primacy/Recency effect chart from Dr. David Sousa’s book How the Brain Learns.
Keeping the Pitch Engaging -
Now that we have established the importance of nailing that first and last impression, how do you keep them consistently engaged with your pitch? Something to take note is to keep your pitch light and conversational in nature. Maybe on the first time you meet, start with a simple ice breaker that is charming enough to ease people into your conversation. I could give you a list of questions you could use, but my best advice would be to let it come up naturally when you meet your interviewer or client for the first time. You don’t want to put them on the spot with some hard-hitting life question or something cliche, like making comments about the weather. Ask about something interesting you saw online about the company or maybe comment on industry trends to show that you are up to date with the latest developments in your field.
In summary, don’t put too much focus on just spewing out past accomplishments throughout the pitch. By keeping the pitch with a more conversational tone, you will end up feeling more connected to your audience on a personal level rather than strictly professional.
Keep it Short n’ Sweet -
Despite how accomplished you have been in your life, there isn’t enough time (or interest) for people to hear your whole life story. Summarizing your major achievements, and knowing what to say, is crucial for delivering a great pitch. Go over your resume, cover letter, or any past work you have available and narrow down to 3 or 4 moments that demonstrate your ability to make strategic decisions and develop great ideas. This will show that you have what it takes to make an impact on the company and that you are worth taking a risk on.
Below is a great example from LinkedIn of how a short n’ sweet pitch should look like. Just remember that the context for each pitch will be different depending on the position and the type of company you’ll be working for.
Context: Seeking a job opportunity Job Title: Media Planner
“Hi, I’m Tom. I’ve spent the last eight years learning and growing in my role as a Media Planner, where I’ve developed and optimized strategic media plans for our top client and managed a subset of planners as a Team Lead. One of my proudest achievements was a pro-bono project that was recognized as a top non-profit campaign last year. I’ve been interested in moving to non-profit for quite a while, and love what your company does in education. Would you mind telling me about any media planning needs you may have on the team?”
Avoid Sounding Robotic -
As I stated in one of our previous blog posts, it’s crucial that you use your elevator pitch as a guideline for your interview or presentation. If you expect to memorize every detail word for word, then you will likely come out sounding robotic. People will take note of this and will likely assume that you are not ready to handle more sophisticated levels of communication. Of course, you always want the important points of your pitch in the back of your mind, so you can mold it in a way that fits the type of people you end up meeting. If, after doing prior research, you notice that the company culture is very relaxed and open-minded, try to be more lighthearted with your tone. Maybe throwing in a couple of witty jokes (when appropriate) might strike a chord with whomever you’re talking, making you seem fun to work with. Of course, if you feel the environment is more serious and professional, it’s best to focus more on selling your ideas to the company while sticking to facts that showcase your worth.
You can have loads of experience, but nobody will want to connect with you if you come across as someone who’s just here for a paycheck at the end of the day. Showing a more conversational and natural side of yourself during pitch will present yourself as someone they can talk comfortably with even outside of work hours.
End On a Good Note
Going back to the Primacy/Recency effect, you want to wrap your pitch with information that leaves your audience thinking, or even impressed. I always try presenting the best ideas I have, or what I plan to bring to the company, close to the end of my pitch. These last few notes of your pitch will likely be the freshest information on your audience's mind when you’re over, so be sure to nail those final points.
Also, be sure to always have questions at the end of it all. Even just one good question should be enough to show that you prepared and did research on the company beforehand. Make sure you are ready to answer questions as well. If an unexpected question comes up, keep calm and answer with confidence in the best way you can. Giving them an “I don’t know” or “not sure” will leave a poor impression, so try your best to give a concrete answer. If you genuinely can’t give an answer, tell them that you’ll get a response back to them as soon as you can, as it will project a sense of initiative on your end.
We hope this blog helped provide you some insight on how to further improve your own elevator pitch! With practice, you will soon be able to use your elevator pitch effectively in any situation where you wish to sell yourself and your ideas effectively.