The following is adapted from the Department of State Career Development Seminar, “Crafting Your Elevator Pitch,” on May 18, 2022.
An elevator pitch is a 30–60 second opportunity to pitch yourself to someone else, which is around the same amount of time as an elevator ride. You have a brief moment to grab the attention of an interviewer or stakeholder and get your point across. When you use your elevator pitch effectively, you communicate what is important to you, tell others about a problem you are trying to solve, create interest in yourself and your projects, and open doors to future opportunities.
How to craft an elevator pitch
Your message needs to be so memorable that others will continue talking and thinking about you or your projects after the conversation is over. Here are some key elements to remember when you create your elevator pitch:
- Be brief.
- Be clear.
- Tailor your message to the specific audience.
- Highlight what you have to offer.
- Extend an invitation to continue the conversation.
See the example below that highlights important pieces of information you should include:
Points to Include:
- Your background or expertise.
- Problem you are solving.
- An accomplishment.
- Call to action (your ask for the audience).
I am a motivated and driven entrepreneur with five years of experience in the nonprofit sector, specializing in business management, fundraising, and organizational planning [background and expertise]. In my current role, I have helped develop a fundraising and outreach plan [problem you are solving] that focuses on improving donor dollars and connecting with potential stakeholders and sponsors. I have successfully generated over $10,000 in fundraising donations in six months [accomplishments] and have established over 100 new business connections [accomplishments] for my company. I am proud of the dedicated time and passion I have given to this initiative and have reaped the rewards of my efforts through seeing what these donor dollars have done to benefit the less fortunate. I am now looking for opportunities to expand my understanding of nonprofit and organizational leadership. Is there a time this week I could reconnect with you on this important topic? [call to action]
Where can you use your elevator pitch?
Once you put together your elevator pitch, you can use it for more than just conversations in the elevator. You can use your pitch in the following locations:
- In an interview.
- At social gatherings.
- At networking events.
- On your LinkedIn profile.
- In email introductions.
- In the break room (if you are looking for a new position within your organization).
What not to do when giving your elevator pitch
You only have one chance to impress the person you are speaking with, so you need to make it count. You need to present yourself in a way that will persuade your audience to listen to your message and get excited about what you can offer. For more information on how you can persuasively showcase yourself, watch or read the “Perfecting Your Pitch Video Vignettes” series. With this in mind, here are a few things you should avoid doing when you give an elevator pitch:
- Do not be too formal, mechanical, or rehearsed.
- Avoid rambling or repeating yourself.
- Do not speak too quickly — if you get nervous, take time to practice your pitch using a voice recorder to help you slow your speech down.
It is important to practice your pitch. The more you practice your pitch, the easier it will be for you to avoid these pitfalls. Invite your co-workers, classmates, or friends to practice and perfect your business ideas by using the YALILearns Facilitation Guide: Hosting a Pitch Practice Session.
Showcasing your talents and experience succinctly will aid you as you advance in your professional career. As you use your newly crafted elevator pitch, you will have the tools you need to grow your network, inspire excitement for the projects you are working on, and potentially have offers for career advancement.
Are you interested in building your leadership skills? Visit our YALIProfessionals page for more tools and resources to advance your career.