If you have a career of any kind, you need an elevator pitch (some call it an elevator speech or a value proposition).
An elevator pitch is a roughly 30-second sound bite - a response to the question, "Tell me about yourself" or "What do you do?"
Has anyone ever actually used the elevator pitch in an elevator?
While I doubt you will actually use it in an elevator, you will most definitely use it at BBQ's, conferences, job fairs, networking events, during phone screenings, on airline flights, at cocktail parties, in education/training seminars and community gatherings - just to name a few places.
The possibilities of where you can use an elevator pitch to describe what you do are endless.
Maybe we should rename the elevator pitch to the BBQ Boast? The Conference Quote or the Party Pitch? Or the Seminar Spiel?
Regardless of the name or the place, it behooves you to be ready.
Making the connection and telling someone about yourself can lead to your next job, your next sale, your next client, your next growth opportunity, your next volunteer gig or your next chance to help someone else.
So let's be ready.
Here are the short cuts to creating your 30-second elevator pitch:
1. Consider your goal. Think of the target you want to attract when delivering your pitch.
2. Don't be afraid to consider different audiences. You might have a more precise, high-power sounding pitch for professional conferences and a more easy-going, laid back one for sitting on the side line with parents at your kid's softball game. Your goals may shift with the audience, so be prepared to change up that aspect of the pitch.
3. Do a data dump. Write down all the achievements you are proud of in your personal and professional life. In this phase, don't be hindered by what you think should be included. Don't judge what comes to mind. Just write it down. You will edit and cull and refine in the next step - this is the brainstorming phase.
4. Now create your hook. Use information in your data dump to create your pitch. Your pitch should create interest and leave them wanting to know more about what you just said. It doesn't have to be long and convoluted. Also, the pitch doesn't have to include everything you have ever done in 25 years in 30 seconds (save that for the in-person interview). It needs to create intrigue and curiosity. What's your hook?
5. Think "draw them in" versus "sell them." When crafting your pitch, it's best to come from a confident perspective of "here is what I do" and let the conversation flow. Don't make the mistake of trying to sell each person you speak to - that will come across as awkward and off-putting. Instead, draw in the right people by making a firm, specific pitch and let the collaboration of ideas flow naturally.
6. Be ready to tie in your purpose. Why do you love what you do? It's one thing to say, "I am a CFO who brings financing to start-up technology firms..." But if you can add, "...and it fires me up to contribute to bringing tech advances that make life more efficient and productive," it makes it more personal and conveys more passion.
7. Practice. Again. And again. And when you think you are done, practice some more. Only through practice will you hone the words to make them sound more natural.
Having this stage down will dramatically increase your confidence in social settings of all kinds. You know someone is going to ask at some point, "What do you do?" or "Tell me about you." And now you don't have to stumble or pray they don't ask.
Now you can say, "Bring it on."