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Master Your Elevator Speech: A Step-by-Step Guide

elevator speech

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If you’ve been job hunting for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of the “elevator speech“. If not, your first question may be, “What is an elevator speech? An elevator speech (sometimes called an elevator pitch) is a very short and focused commentary to help you make the most of every first impression. An elevator speech gives you a prepared and practiced quick presentation to people (whether in an elevator or not!) about who you are, what you do, and why they would want to hire you.

In effect, your elevator speech is your short marketing speech (your job search objectives) and can be used in a variety of situations such as cold calls, job fairs, meeting someone at a networking event, and yes, even an elevator!

Why You Need an elevator speech:

Having and using an elevator speech helps lead to quicker and stronger connections with whomever you are trying to connect with. It gives you an opportunity to describe who you are and what opportunities interest you.  If the person you are giving your “pitch to” is a hiring manager or Recruiter, it could lead to an interview,

Additionally, having a prepared pitch will help you stand out and show that you are focused on your career. This can be very helpful at social events and business events. Having a short, concise personal elevator speech will help you make a great impression.

  1. It provides a concise answer to “what do you do” when it really counts.
  2. It provides a potential networking contact with the information they need to determine if they should provide a recommendation or job lead.
  3. Explains to a hiring manager why they should hire you.
  4. Defines “your brand” (you as the product).
  5. It helps you summarize many years of experience into a short powerful opening introduction.

The actual length of the speech varies depending on who you speak with and what you read (30 seconds, 90 seconds, 3 minutes). I think the length is less important than the content (although 3 minutes would be a very long elevator ride). Suggestions as to style and content vary as much as the suggestions on length. Regardless of the length and format, it is an essential part of your job search toolkit and many times is the opening line in an interview.

What Your Elevator Speech Should Include:

  1. Define your target “market” (recruiters, hiring managers, people in your network, etc.).
  2. Define the core of your experience (why a hiring manager should consider you for the position).
  3. Include your top 3 accomplishments in your career (include the cost-benefit savings, etc.).
  4. Define the purpose (what are you trying to achieve).
  5. Include a “wow” factor, keep them interested and listening to you.

Above all else, practice makes perfect. Recruit a friend or relative to listen to your speech and have them provide constructive comments.

Creating and Using Your Elevator Speech

  1. Keep it simple.  Don’t try to go into your life story. On the other hand, you don’t want to be unfocused or have unclear thoughts in your speech. Pause and give the person an opportunity to respond.
  2. Practice makes perfect.  Prepare and practice your speech. Use friends, family, your mentor, and coworkers to help you refine your speech.
  3. Be specific. Don’t generalize, give examples. A goal that is too specific isn’t helpful and you want to be able to use your speech in different settings. Mention the industry or job role that you have in mind.
  4. Share your relevant skills and goals. Who are you, what are you best at, why are you the best?
  5. Have a business card handy (don’t have one? Get a business card).

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