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How to Create a Successful Elevator Pitch

Oh, how I love the elevator pitch. The elevator pitch has a nice, warm nook in my heart and I find it to be one of the most beneficial things I have ever learned. I remember back when I was a senior about to graduate college, a requirement in my senior capstone class was to create a 30-second elevator pitch and present it to the entire class. My professor had brought in three guests to judge us and they were pretty serious guests. One was a writer and journalist, another was a business owner and the last was a fellow professor. We had to pitch ourselves to them in 30 seconds or less and convince them to follow up and set-up a meeting with us for a later date. They would then pick who had the best pitch.

Oh, the pressure! I tried everything in my power to weasel my way out of it, but the fact of the matter is that it is a skill every businessperson and job seeker needs to have under their belt. Essentially, an elevator pitch or speech is a brief description about who you are, what you do and why it is special. It’s called an elevator pitch because if you were, by chance, to walk into an elevator with the CEO of a company you want to work for, you would have only a small amount of time to make a good impression and a substantial impact on them. Having a creative and stimulating answer to the question, “what is it that you do?” can make all the difference. So, where do you start?

1. Write out a list of your skills
You’re not going to list all of your skills in your elevator pitch, that’s what your resume is for. However, writing down your most valuable and marketable skills gives you a great starting point. From here, you can figure out what makes you marketable to a company and what you want to focus on in your pitch.

2. Figure out what is unique about you or what you do
To have a successful elevator pitch, you need to have a good hook; something that draws the listener in to what you are saying and keeps them there. Once you have written down all of your skills, think of which ones are most unique or pick the ones that you can use to intrigue your listener. For example, you could easily say, “I’m a writer for an internet company.” That’s great, but who really cares? It would be better if you found a creative angle, like “I control the blog for an internet company that specializes in job search advice, interviewing and talent acquisition.” That may hold your listeners attention longer than the former.

3. Make your pitch or speech exciting
No one wants to listen to anything boring or bland. Chances are whatever you specialize in or are looking for a job in, you’re passionate about it. What you do or what you want to do excites you and you want to instill that same excitement into your listener, right? What is it about what you do that intrigues you and motivates you? Make sure you put that into your pitch so you show your listener how passionate and excited you are.

4. Jot down a draft
You don’t want to write down word for word what you are going to say in your elevator speech because it wouldn’t sound natural. You don’t want to sound as if you are reading off a written up document. Rather, you want to sound impromptu and poised. Having a guide written down for your own reference can help you as you practice what you want to say and ensure that you are hitting everything you want to hit in your pitch. Which brings us to the next tip:

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Some people are born with the natural ability to communicate and wow others with their verbal skills. Most are not. Once you have a good idea of what you want to say and cover in your pitch, sit down with yourself or with a friend and practice it as if you were in an elevator with the CEO of Rolling Stone, or whatever company you dream of working for. Practicing your pitch over and over again will easily show you your strengths and the areas you need to improve upon.

6. Remember to keep it simple, short and sweet
It’s likely that once you get the ball rolling, you’ll have plenty that you want to say about yourself and your career or business. After all, this is all about you. However, make sure you are keeping your pitch simple. You only have 30 seconds to portray to the listener why you are important or great and in doing so you don’t want to overload them with useless information. Pick one thing you want to focus on and nail it.

While the elevator pitch in my class was extremely nerve-wracking and difficult for me, I pushed through, practiced and ended up nailing it in the end. I had the best elevator pitch in the class and am fairly positive that if I was truly stuck in an elevator with someone I wanted a job from I would have gotten an interview. That just goes to show that even the most inexperienced and quiet person can devise a plan for an elevator pitch, practice it and nail it. Good luck!

IMAGE: Reuters

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter

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