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The Elevator Pitch – Make the most of a brief encounter

The Elevator Pitch – Make the most of a brief encounter

Whether you’re a marketer, a communicator, or a “capital C” creative, being able to aptly summarise what you do and where you work is extremely important for your own personal brand.

If you can’t concisely sum up your specialisation, can’t confidently describe what makes you you, how on earth can you expect to build credibility, best represent your employer and, ultimately, progress your career?

We’ve all met the type who mumble some dross about being “in advertising”, “in marketing”, “in recruitment” or some other profession. How often do we actually remember what these people do, let alone the people themselves?

The people we remember are the ones who “wow” us from the very first word that leave their mouths. They’re the type who usually ask more questions than they answer, and they’re usually the type who, upon answering our first question, will provide such an engaging answer that we’ll have trouble not asking anything else.

A progressive past employer once introduced me to the concept of the ‘Elevator Pitch’. The concept goes like this: you step into an elevator with a stranger you’ve been making small talk with while waiting in the lobby, push the 20th floor button and the stranger asks ‘what do you do?’

So what do you do? You’ve got 20-30 seconds to get it right. Now, as above, most of us will say something vague, opting for modesty instead of telling it how it is. Do we realise, though, that when we take this option we’re blowing a wonderful opportunity not only to confidently introduce ourselves and what our unique skills are, but also a chance to introduce our company, what it does and its core market, all in the space of a 30 second elevator ride?

The concept of the Elevator Pitch aims to briefly convey and deliver relevant information to all sorts of audiences, but its aim is also to have the listener want to know more. It recognises that we don’t always have a lot of time to sell ourselves, or an idea, but recognises too that the delivery of such information can spark additional interest and engagement.

It can come in useful in a myriad of ways; you might be hopping into the elevator with the CEO before a meeting where you’ll be pitching a new idea; you could have a chance meeting with a prospective employer in a social setting where you’ve got the chance to sell your skills for a new job; or, you could simply be making small talk with a stranger at a party and want to make a good impression.

This third example is poignant because it’s human nature that we should all want to make a good impression. Why, then, do so many of us sell ourselves short, especially when the chance to excel is presented to us on a silver platter?

Don’t get me wrong; the Elevator Pitch is not easy to refine. Many converts practice their pitches constantly in order to make it sound natural when given the opportunity to use it. Most of us do all kinds of things in our jobs and wider lives, so constructing a short summary can be difficult and, as always, it’s a question of what to leave out which is sometimes hardest.

Nevertheless, it’s a concept worth working on; if you’ve managed it well, you’ll be able to confidently express your value proposition to anyone who asks who you are or what you do, and without sounding arrogant or snooty. Au contraire, you’ll be seen as confident, interesting and engaging, three essential qualities that leaders display. So what do you do?

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