Mastering your elevator pitch is both an art and a science. It’s not a task you should take lightly, as your elevator pitch could make or break your career. Your elevator pitch is often your first impression to potential business partners, investors, clients, employers and all other professionals.
From time-tested guidelines to recent trends, here are the best practices for mastering your elevator pitch.
Timing Is Everything
Busy professionals can’t waste a minute of their precious time. We’ve all been told that an elevator pitch shouldn’t exceed 30-seconds, but is someone really going to intently listen for that long? Recent research suggests that an adult’s attention span averages only 8 seconds. Instead of trying to cram your entire resume into the shrinking amount of time someone will listen to you, shift your focus to what really matters. You want them to know what you do, what you need, and who you are.
Know Your Audience
Your elevator pitch is quite literally all about you, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tailored to your audience. Tell them what they should know in a way that will hold their attention. You want to leave the best, most memorable impression in the short amount of time you have. If the person you’re speaking to genuinely cares about what you’re saying, that’s immeasurably better than them just passively listening. They’re also more likely to remember you.
Showcase Your Expertise
The more trustworthy you prove yourself to be, the more likely someone will buy into what you’re pitching – even if what you’re pitching is yourself or your company. However, rattling off a list of accomplishments sounds boastful, so you should construct a 1-2 sentence story that demonstrates your expertise. It could be how you’re solving a large problem or why you’re uniquely qualified to do so.
Even if you are not actually confident, you need to act confident. If you’re anxious, that will come off in your pitch. As cliche as it sounds, you should practice your elevator pitch in front of a mirror or trusted friends. The only way to tell how others might perceive you in conversation is to see for yourself. In addition, repeatedly practicing your elevator pitch will make you more comfortable when delivering it to a real person.
Although a lot is riding on the perfect elevator pitch, remember to take a deep breath and relax before starting the conversation. You’re probably more knowledgeable about your subject matter than the person you’re speaking to. If you’re lucky, you might get some follow-up questions from whomever you’re pitching to, and being prepared for those questions is just as important as the elevator pitch itself.