What Is An Elevator Pitch And How To Ace It

Advice

February 15, 2021

An elevator pitch is a way of briefly summarising and presenting yourself to someone who’s never met you. In essence, you’re pitching yourself in a succinct, interesting, and persuasive way. Why would we need an elevator pitch? They can be used in a variety of professional settings, from job interviews to high tea, corporate meetings, but as a student, you will mostly use them at networking events and career fairs.

 

Elevator pitches are important in making a good first impression. They can help you to connect with people and could lead to further opportunities in the next steps of your career.

At the very least, an elevator pitch can bring you a business card, and at its most successful, it can land you a meeting with an important person. The goal is to get people interested and talking to you, so don’t worry about immediately landing a career opportunity.

 

Moreover, the skills of an elevator pitch are applicable in any context, and show that you can communicate clearly and concisely.

 

What is an elevator pitch?

 

An elevator pitch is a short overview of who you are which aims to introduce you to the person you’re talking to. This will lead to further conversation and potential networking opportunities, and shows that you can speak and present in a succinct and persuasive way.

 

As a student, an elevator pitch is a brief summary of you, your experience, and your goals. This is likely to be what degree you’re studying, any relevant work experience or extracurriculars, and what you’d like to do in the (near) future. You can briefly mention any particular interests or unique skills here as well. 

 

For example:

 
I’m [name] and I’m a third-year Geography student. I’m currently Secretary of the Geography society at university, and I’ve written several articles about climate change, something I’m really passionate about. After graduating, I’m looking to work in communications and marketing in a company related to global health. <Add company-specific detail, especially something with a news hook to show that you’re updated on the industry>
 

It should last no longer than 30 seconds or the length of an elevator ride, which is where its name comes from. 

 

Tips:

 

Keep it short

The key to an elevator pitch is its length. Brevity is the soul of wit - this is just an introduction. Whilst it can be tempting to ramble, especially if you’re not entirely sure what to say, you don’t need to mention everything you’ve ever done. Being able to communicate information concisely is a skill that the person you’re talking to will appreciate. Further information and specifics can be provided later, for example through connecting on Linkedin. 

 

Be selective 

In order to keep the elevator pitch short, you need to prioritise the most relevant and important information. For example, being involved in a society relevant to your field (e.g. Law Society) is probably more important than other societies (e.g. sport) at this stage. This doesn’t mean that one is more meaningful than the other, but that one is more appropriate to the context at hand.

 

...but flexible, in accordance with the context

You should make sure that you’re providing the most important content, but this changes depending on the context and who you’re speaking to. You shouldn’t have one elevator pitch for all situations, but one which you can tailor the content of depending on these factors.
For example, when giving an elevator pitch to someone who works in research you can mention the extended project that you completed as part of your degree. However, when talking to someone who works in marketing, you can mention your role in managing social media for a campaign or a society. The tone and delivery can change as well, depending on who you’re speaking to.

 

Presentation is important

It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Keeping a positive and friendly attitude is important in establishing a rapport with the person you’re talking to, and will make you look confident and approachable. This can involve maintaining eye contact, having open body language, and smiling. 

 

Practice!

The final tip is to practise your elevator pitch. This will help you to avoid accidental rambling, and ensure that you know what you’re going to say. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, but having practised a rough plan of what you want to say means that you won’t be caught off guard. 

 

Once you’ve perfected the elevator pitch, it will be invaluable in helping you to introduce yourself to career professionals when networking. It’s always impressive to be able to concisely and persuasively present information, and the skills involved in an elevator pitch can be applied and will be useful anywhere. 

  

Written by Leeza Isaeva

Leeza Isaeva is a history student at the University of Cambridge.

Photo by Sung Jin Cho on Unsplash

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