By: Katherine Konrad, Marketing Project Manager and Celarity Guest Blogger
*Ding* the elevator doors open, and you squeeze yourself in between your boss and some guy who definitely had onions for lunch. Thankfully, Mr. McRancid Breath gets off on the next floor – but now, you’re left alone next to your boss’s boss, staring silently straight ahead at the silver, shiny doors for the next 20ish seconds, all the way up to the 25th floor. Do you sit in awkward silence? No, you’ve gleaned better social skills since middle school. Do you ask how their weekend was? No, it’s Thursday; that would be weird. On second thought, maybe things haven’t changed since 7th grade. OK, Plan C: how about using this coveted time with upper management to toot your own indispensable work-related horn, with an elevator pitch? Thank goodness you’ve prepared one. Right? Right!?
OK you haven’t. That’s fine. We’ll keep it between you and me – well, and everyone reading this. So, 7 people, tops. Beyond that, I’ll even give you some ideas to get you started. You can thank me later, after that promotion.
The “Elevator Pitch” is named according to the brevity of its nature. It’s a message to convey assuming you have only 20-30 seconds of this person’s time to sell yourself – about the length of elevator ride. So, save superfluous words like “superfluous” for this article and not your speech, and keep it simple with only the following points:
- What you do/have done/are working on
- Why it is unique, beneficial, and/or an improvement (Data points are good here)
- End with question that relates to the goal of your pitch (Engages the listener, and encourages next steps)
You may have noticed I alluded to this this earlier, but you never know when those elevator doors will open to someone whose ear you’d like to have. So before that happens, know the goal of your message – which is usually: How to help save a company time and money for $500, Alex? Have some bullet points jotted down, and have them practiced so you’re ready if and when you’re in “jeopardy” of small talk or a missed opportunity.
I had a friend who once went to a meeting her first day on the job at a large corporation. Once I, um…she realized she was in the wrong room, it was too late; attendees were already going around the table doing introductions. As my, I mean her turn came, she took a deep breath. She clearly and confidently stated her name, and her title, then waited for the walls to collapse in. But they didn’t. Instead, the next person nodded and carried on. Ok, maybe that friend was me. But the point is that if you’re not feeling confident, you can fake it ‘til you make it … to the correct meeting next time, that is.
Confidence tips for your elevator pitch:
- Body language should be open (no crossed arms, hands away from face)
- Stand up straight
- Slow down (speak clearly, and don’t rush)
- Eye contact (not in a creepy way – relax and blink occasionally)
Being interesting is just as applicable to an elevator pitch as to other areas of life. Remember fighting back heavy eyelids during those monotone, glazed-eyed presentations from middle-school classmates? Maybe not, because you were sleeping. So, to keep your audience awake, alert, and interested, you should be employing tactics like: energetic voice inflections, smiling, and real-time story-telling. However, the most important way to be interesting to someone else is to talk about something in which they’re interested. I know, Mind. Blown. … Knowing who your audience is, and what they care about is paramount to an effective elevator speech.