Selling Yourself – Crafting An Elevator Pitch
How to sell yourself in three minutes or less
Selling yourself, also known as an Elevator Pitch or Elevator Statement is a short statement, which sums you up to others. Ideally, it should be no more than three minutes in length, and should only focus on your professional self, rather than your personal life. It takes time to perfect it, however, it is worth it and can be used at job interviews, networking events and so on.
A client, Sara, had been a full-time Mum for eight years and was contemplating returning to work. She was excited at the prospect but was nervous about attending an interview. It had been over 13 years since she had last been interviewed for a role.
We talked about typical interview questions, and the fact that many organisations often want to know what added value would Sara would bring to the role. Sara was stumped, and admitted so. In her eyes she was a Mum, her skills were rusty, and she felt other candidates would be better qualified.
I asked Sara in advance of our next session to reflect on her:
Under each of the headings she was to write down three strengths.
At our next session, I asked Sara to talk me through her reflections. Before her maternity leave Sara had been a primary school teacher. Her notes evidenced that she had many transferable skills, not least organising people, planning lessons, interpreting data, giving constructive feedback, to name but a few.
I asked Sara to frame this as her ‘elevator pitch’. So what is an elevator pitch?
ABOUT THE TECHNIQUE
An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in you. You can also use them to create interest in a project, idea, or product.
The elevator pitch should have a clear structure. I always suggest do everything in threes – people remember things in threes.
CREATING AN ELEVATOR PITCH
It can take some time to get your pitch right. You’ll likely go through several versions before finding one that is compelling, and that sounds natural in conversation.
Follow these steps to create a great pitch, but bear in mind that you’ll need to vary your approach depending on what your pitch is about.
1 IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL
Start by thinking about the objective of your pitch; is it for a job interview, a promotion, selling an idea to your management team?
2 EXPLAIN WHAT YOU CAN OFFER
Start your pitch by describing what you can offer. Focus on how you add value; the framework for Sara is a good framework and is easy to use and remember. If you can, add information or a statistic that shows the value in what you do.
Ask yourself this question as you start writing: what is the key message you want to leave others with?
Keep in mind that your pitch should excite you first; after all, if you don’t get excited about what you’re saying, neither will your audience. Your pitch should bring a smile to your face and quicken your heartbeat. People may not remember everything that you say, but they will likely remember your enthusiasm.
3 COMMUNICATE YOUR USP
Your elevator pitch also needs to communicate your unique selling proposition, or USP.
Identify what makes you unique. Remember Sara, was asked to list three strengths under each of the headings.
See our blog:
TALENT – PERSONAL SWOT ANALYSIS
4 ENGAGE WITH A QUESTION
After you communicate your USP, you need to engage your audience. To do this, prepare open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer) to involve them in the conversation.
Make sure that you’re able to answer any questions that he or she may have. You may ask for example, “I have cantered through how I can add value, and I am happy to go into more detail on any of the points I have raised”.
5 PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
When you’ve completed each section of your pitch, put it all together.
Then, read it aloud and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes. It should be no longer than three minutes. Otherwise you risk losing the interest of your audience.
Then, try to cut out anything doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Remember, your pitch needs to be snappy and compelling, so the shorter it is, the better!
See our blog:
First Impression – How To Make It Count
Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Remember, how you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.
Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. You want it to sound like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch.
Make sure that you’re aware of your body language as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, in front of colleagues until the pitch feels natural. If you can video yourself and watch it!
As you get used to delivering your pitch, it’s fine to vary it a little – the idea is that it doesn’t sound too formulaic or like it’s pre-prepared, even though it is!
An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you can use to spark interest in you! You can also use one to create interest in a project, idea, or product.
It needs to be succinct, while conveying important information.
To craft a great pitch, follow these steps:
- Identify your goal
- Explain what you do
- Communicate your USP
- Engage with a question
- Put it all together
For more tips on selling yourself through a carefully crafted elevator pitch, watch: