Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

September 28, 2018

The time of year we love to dread is back again, folks – career fair time! Beyond just the objective of getting a job, career fair season means meeting hoards of new people and trying to impress them. Although I love career development activities (I’m a weirdo, I know!), my least favorite part is that first interaction. How do you pull someone in without seeming too aggressive or fake? That’s where the elevator pitch comes in, of course!

I wrote a post for The Happy Arkansan last year about how to craft a “perfect” elevator pitch, but since then I’ve had a little more industry experience, and I definitely have some updated advice. 

Develop a focus for your elevator pitch.

Ah, my most dreaded interview/career fair question, and the perfect elevator pitch prompt. I don’t know about you all, but the thing I have the hardest time with is talking about myself! How am I supposed to cram 20 years of my life PLUS “Please hire me!” into just one minute?

After answering this prompt a few times and being unhappy with my own answer, I soon realized that I was approaching the question completely wrong. Your interviewer doesn’t want to know everything about you, they just want to know the important things. 

An elevator pitch is particularly useful in this scenario, simply because it can help you (and your interviewer!) identify your main selling points. Start working on your elevator pitch by developing a “thesis statement”, or the main take-away from your interaction. This is going to be the backbone of your pitch. You don’t have to necessarily say it outright, but this is what you want them to be thinking about once you’ve left their booth.

Your thesis statement might be based around the fact that you’re a hard worker, experienced, and a critical thinker, or simply that you’re really passionate about the company. As long as it is true to how you want to convey yourself, you’re golden!

Now…turn it into a story!

Now that you have this thesis statement in mind, think about how you can relay that idea. After introducing yourself, develop an engaging (but short!) story to pique interest. Turning your elevator pitch into a story is a great way to maintain the other person’s interest. It also makes it easier for you to remember!

For example, if your thesis statement is “I want to apply my critical thinking skills to an engineering internship,” you could build your story around your critical-thinking mindset, how it led you to engineering, and the experiences you’ve had thus far that would apply to the internship. Of course, you should tailor your story to fit your personality, but this is a great place to start!

Focus on the delivery. (And practice).

If you Google “elevator pitch”, you’ll find a lot of templates of how exactly to phrase it. I’m a firm believer in NOT memorizing a script, but rather speaking as organically as possible. People like to talk to people, not robots, and giving your elevator pitch in a way that feels authentic and unrehearsed will not only make you more comfortable, but it will also land better. 

When you give your elevator pitch focus on delivering it with clarity and confidence instead of focusing on the words themselves. You’ll soon realize that the “script” matters way less than the way you deliver it. Keep practicing it this way, and you’ll become way more comfortable and confident in your delivery.

Like I said before, as long as you get your point across in a way that’s authentic to your personality, you’re going to do great. Which brings me to my final point…

Finally…be yourself!

When you think about career things like networking and elevator pitches, it’s easy to get caught up in the “fakeness” of it all. You’re trying to portray yourself in an employable way, and that might feel like simply an act. However, re-molding your personality into something that you think would make your potential employer happy is not the way to go. 

Be true to yourself from beginning to end! Try not to alter the way you speak to seem more peppy if you’re naturally a chill person, and definitely don’t lie about your skills or experiences. Beyond avoiding dishonesty, being true to yourself takes so much pressure off your shoulders! If you go into your elevator pitch being confident in the person you are, the rest will take care of itself. I promise!

Final Thoughts

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, I give you mad props. I hope these tips are helpful to you, even if it’s in a small way! Elevator pitches may be daunting at first, but they don’t have to be. Soon you’ll be pitchin’ like a pro!

What are your career fair tips? What do you include in your elevator pitch?

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