If you’re job hunting, one of the first tasks on your to-do list should be crafting an ideal “elevator pitch.” An elevator speech is the 30-second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate for the job.
Your elevator speech should be so ingrained in you that you should be able to reel it off at any time, from a job interview to a cocktail party conversation with someone who might be able to help you land a position.
It sounds simple, right? Don’t be quick to conclude, because, condensing 25+ years of your life accomplishments into a 30-second statement that packs a punch can feel as challenging as trying to stuff an elephant into a Volkswagen Beetle.
The picture is clearer now right? So to help you develop a sensational elevator pitch, I’ve broken the process down into nine steps:
1. Clarify your job target.
As Yogi Berra rightly said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
The moment you begin to put your elevator pitch together, look for the best way to describe your field and the type of job you’re pursuing. Until you can clearly explain the type of position you want, nobody can help you find it or hire you to do it.
2. Put it on paper.
In my opinion, things are clearer when they are written down. So write down everything you’d want a prospective employer to know about you, your skills, accomplishments and work experiences that are important to your target position. Then grab a marker or a red pen and mercilessly strike out everything that’s not critical to your pitch.
Keep going until you’ve got the speech down to a few key bullet points or sentences. The main purpose of the elevator pitch is to interest the listener in learning more, not to tell him/her the story of your life. So remove extraneous details that detract from your core message.
3. Format it.
A good elevator pitch should answer these three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?
Here’s a good example of how to begin a pitch that includes the essentials: “Hello. I am Sandra Brown. I am a journalist with 10 years experience in the Newspaper industry and I’m looking for opportunities in the Lagos area with both Electronic and Print Media.”
That speech would take about 15 seconds. Sandra would then want to use her next 15 seconds to add details about her unique selling proposition, special skills and specific ways she could help a potential employer.
4. Tailor the pitch to them, not you.
Many job seekers make the mistake of laying too much emphasis on what the job would do for them rather than what they would do for the company. It’s important to remember that the people listening to your speech will have their antennas tuned to WIFM (What’s in It for Me?) So be sure to focus your message on their needs.
For example, this introduction: “I am a human resources professional with 10 years experience working for consumer products companies.” The pitch would be more powerful if you said, “I am a human resources professional with a strong track record in helping to identify and recruit top-level talent into management.”
Using benefit-focused terminology will help convince an interviewer that you have the experience, savvy and skills to get the job done at his or her business.
5. Eliminate industry jargon.
Your pitch should be easy for anyone, I repeat, anyone to understand. So please, by all means, avoid using acronyms and tech-speak that the average person or job interviewer might not understand.
The last thing you want to do is make your listener feel stupid or uninformed.
6. Read your pitch out loud.
writing is more formal and structured than speaking. If you’re not careful, your elevator pitch can come off sounding more like an infomercial than a conversation.
Reading it aloud then fine tuning the words will help you sound more authentic and make the speech more conversational.
7. Practice, practice then practice some more(then solicit feedback).
Rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror, in the bathroom, on your bed, use the recording capabilities of your phone or computer, so you can see and hear how you sound.
I know from experience that it might feel awkward at first, but the more you practice, the more you get used to your voice; you learn how and when to inflect for effect, the smoother your delivery will be.
Keep modifying your pitch until it no longer sounds rehearsed. When your presentation is polished to your satisfaction, try it out on a few friends and ask them what they thought your key points were. If their response doesn’t square with your objective, the speech still needs work.
8. Prepare a few variations.
You might want to say things slightly differently to an interviewer than to a former colleague.
Also, sometimes you’ll just have 15 seconds for a pitch (kind of a short elevator ride), other times you may have a minute or two.
So focus on mastering a few key talking points then work up ways to customize your speech for particular situations.
Use the word count feature on your computer to create shorter and longer pitches; a good rule of thumb is that you can say about 150 words in one minute.
9. Nail it with confidence.
The best-worded elevator pitch in the world will fall flat unless it’s conveyed well.
Remember, when you give the elevator pitch, look the person in the eye, smile and deliver your message with a confident, upbeat delivery.
Just ponder on this: ‘If you get your pitch right, you might soon find yourself riding an actual elevator at your new job’.Putting Together The Perfect Elevator Pitch by Stellamaris Obomanu