Let’s begin with explaining what an elevator pitch is. Here ‘s a definition I found:
“A slang term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service or project. The name comes from the notion (idea) that the speech should be delivered in the short time period of an elevator ride, usually 20-60 seconds.” (Source: Investopedia)
The word “elevator” is American English for “lift” in British English.
If you need to tell a story, make an impression, or sell something as quickly and succinctly (concisely) as possible—think 30 seconds or less, you’d use an elevator pitch.
They’re great for:
- Networking events when you’re trying to give someone a brief picture of who you are.
- That horrible “Tell Me About Yourself” interview question
- In a social, non-professional event where you can interest people in what you do with an easy-to-understand description of who you are
They’re not easy to do in your own language let alone in English as your second language, but with preparation and practice you could master that elevator pitch and impress everyone around you.
I found this 15-minute method that I think is excellent advice. I’ve tried it myself and it works! Try it and I promise you you’ll feel so much more confident with your speech. I’ve outlined it below:
Minutes 1 – 5: Write Down Everything You Want To Say About Yourself
So, the first thing to do is to take a blank sheet of paper and write down every little thing you would want someone you’re meeting to know about you. Don’t hold back at this stage – there will be plenty of time to edit what you’ve written later.
To help you with this task, ask yourself some of these questions:
- What makes you different in your field?
- How do you stand out?
- What benefit would you like to bring to the world?
- If you’re making a career change, how do your current skills and experiences relate to where you want to be?
Minutes 6 – 10: Write it on a Sticky Note
So, now if you had to do the same exercise but this time you had to write your ideas on a sticky note, what would you do? What would you prioritize? What would you decide isn’t important for a first meeting? Look over your thoughts and decided what is needed and what is not (redundant), what you want to keep and what’s not important.
If you’re like me and find it hard to reduce your ideas, a good framework to use is to think of a few sentences that answer these four questions:
- What do you do?
- Why does it matter?
- Why do you do it?
- What’s next?
So let’s start with a short, descriptive explanation of what you do. Let’s use me as an example: “I’m an independent Business English Language Trainer,”.
Then take it a step further and think about how your work affects others. “I help professionals succeed in their work and business with English.”
Then try adding your reason for doing it, such as: “I love helping and motivating non-English speaking professionals to become effective communicators and witnessing their confidence grow in the process.”
Finally, especially if you’re looking for a job or looking to gain something from the interaction, you should mention what’s next, like: “Now I’m looking to branch out and create online courses and e-books so I can reach more professionals around the world.”
Minutes 11 -15: Speak it Out Loud
Before you give your first elevator pitch, you’ll need to test it out and this means speaking it out loud. You want to make your speech sound part of a natural conversation and not something you’ve memorised and are now repeating like a parrot!
This practice will also stop you from using business jargon as most people’s natural conversations don’t normally include jargon. For example, if you used a phrase like “strategic insight” you’d probably have people staring at you blankly. It’s much more powerful to use simple and straightforward words to describe your role. Instead of “strategic insight” you could say “help businesses identify new products they could create or customers they could serve”*. It’s more natural, real and understandable.
Once you have an elevator pitch you’re happy with, put the sticky note somewhere accessible like on your desk or in your wallet/purse, read it every day, and then start adding it into your conversations. You may change it from time to time but you’ll have a solid base to start from.
Give it a go and do let me know how you get on. Good luck!
I hope you liked this blog post. If you think your friends and colleagues could benefit from the post, please share it with them. And don’t go away without subscribing to and downloading my FREE guide on 10 ways to communicate better at work in English (see below).
Thanks for reading and ciao for now.
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