How To Give The Perfect Elevator Pitch

Unsplash / Scott Szarapka

If you’re in the market for a new job or just want to place yourself in front of someone super important, coming up with a semi-rehearsed speech about yourself may sound pretty cliché. That said, if you do it well, you could give yourself a major boost compared to your competition. Not sure how to go about this sort of confrontation? It’s time to create… an elevator pitch.

What even is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a very short persuasive speech that you can use to gain interest from people who could help you move further along in your career, like potential employers and recruiters. When we say short, we mean it — even if you’re not in an elevator, give yourself the approximate amount of time you’d have if you were talking to someone from floor one to maybe floor 20. In other words, make it around 30 seconds.

A big misconception with elevator pitches is that they have to be one-sided, as though you’re legitimately pitching someone a product. While that can sometimes be the case, we suggest engaging the person you’re talking to casually like they’re a familiar colleague to make the exchange feel more natural.

Here are some tips for crafting the perfect elevator pitch.


1. Keep it short and rehearse the timing.

We’re gonna say it again, because it’s that important. Keeping your elevator pitch short makes a huge difference, especially if you really do have a limited amount of time. Also, the person you’re speaking to likely has other things going on or hasn’t scheduled to meet with you, so you’re taking up their time to talk about yourself. The least you can do is keep it short and sweet. Because you won’t be physically timing yourself on your phone or stopwatch (that would be disastrous if you attempted it), you’ll have to rehearse what you want to say or at least nail down the main points before you give an elevator pitch to anyone.

2. Tell your captive audience who you are and what makes you unique.

Unless you have some royal title, you should be able to say, “My name is X Y, and I’m the Z at T company” in approximately five seconds. Easy peasy, right? But then, you’ll have to tell your chosen person why you’re the best, or unique, at what you do. We’re assuming you’ll know how to tell this person why you’re connecting with the company (“I’m applying for the data manager job here”) or (“I’m hoping to link up with your sales manager on X project”), but explain what you do and the innovative ways you do your job that benefit your current company.

3. Show how you solved a major problem.

As soon as you’ve established who you are, identify a major problem in the industry you worked in that this person (and the company you’re trying to get into) could also connect with. For example, if you’re a video producer talking to the video editor of a popular website, you might say something like, “Most major websites are shooting their videos this way when it’s actually stunting social media potential. At X company, I redirected our focus toward this shoot style and found a 26 percent increase in traffic after the switch.” You’re posing a problem this person could relate to and offering them a solid example of how you were able to provide a solution.


4. Make it personal.

Providing some personal touches to your pitch likely won’t hurt you, especially since you’re showing that you did your research on the company you’re hoping to form a relationship with. If you can, connect a recent piece of news of this company with the solution you’re trying to pose, like “I read your company is switching to X program, which I have expertise in, and I found Y shortcut that could make your team run more efficiently.”

5. Be flexible.

Though you may have the perfect thing to say planned, the person you’re talking to isn’t a robot designed to reply to your statements the way you want. Sometimes, that person might say something like, “Actually, this reminds me of the time…” and you have to go with it. Stay flexible and let the conversation go where it’s naturally going. Keep a read on this person and make sure that if he or she is backing out of the conversation, you allow it to be finished.

6. Close the conversation by asking how to get in touch.

When the conversation comes to a close, and you feel that it went well, don’t just offer up your card and don’t assume that they want to get lunch on Friday. Instead, find a middle ground and say, “What’s the best way to get on your calendar next week to chat more?” or, “I really enjoyed this conversation, and I’d love to take it a step further and run some numbers with you if you have time for a call.”

An elevator pitch doesn’t have to be daunting. You’d be surprised by how rewarding one can be if you know what to say and when to say it. Most importantly, stay conversational and let the chat go where it needs to go. It takes two to tango, and the same can be said about a pitch.