If you are able to introduce yourself to someone in a compelling way, it can help set you up for a successful professional conversation, whether it’s at a networking event, with a colleague or at the beginning of an interview. One tool you can use to make introductions simple and effective is the elevator pitch. In this article, we share several elevator pitch examples along with tips to help ideate, craft and deliver your personal message.
What is an elevator pitch?
A personal elevator pitch is a quick summary of yourself. It’s named for the amount of time it should take to deliver it—the duration of a short elevator ride (roughly 30 to 60 seconds or 75 words). Elevator pitches are sometimes thought to be specific to an idea or a product, but you can also use it to sell yourself as a professional.
Why are they important?
A good elevator pitch is important because it’s an effective way to demonstrate your professional aptitude, strengths and skills. An elevator pitch is also useful in multiple situations which makes it especially valuable. If possible, you should always have some talking points about yourself prepared (so you’re ready to take advantage of unexpected opportunities), but an elevator pitch is particularly helpful during a job search.
You can use your pitch to prepare for an interview. From phone screen to in-person interview, you’ll be asked to provide a summary of who you are, your background and what you want from your next job. The elevator pitch can be a good framework as you’re planning your answer to the popular interview question “tell me about yourself”.
An elevator pitch can be used to outline your cover letter or a professional summary statement at the top of your resume. Both a cover letter and summary statement are intended to tell the reader who you are professionally, what work you are passionate about doing and why you are qualified to do it in a way that helps you stand out from other applicants. If you’ve already crafted an elevator pitch, then this is a great way to repurpose it.
A personal elevator pitch is also beneficial for networking at an event or during a spontaneous encounter. Whether you’re in line at the grocery store, at a cocktail party or an organized professional gathering, the pitch can quickly help new contacts understand why they should connect with you or consider you when an opportunity arises.
An advantage of using an elevator pitch when speaking about your career or aspirations is that you can show you are capable of taking the lead. Instead of waiting on the other party to direct the conversation, and potentially away from what you’d like to discuss, you can assertively explain what you have to offer. In many interactions, such as a job interview or mentorship proposition, this can be impressive to your audience—they will be pleased to see you know both what you want and how to ask for it.
Related: Tips for How to Be Assertive at Work
The four-step elevator pitch:
1. Start by introducing yourself
2. Provide a summary of what you do
3. Explain what you want
4. Finish with a call to action
When you should use an elevator pitch
At a career fair
A polished elevator pitch is useful at career fairs where your time to interact with employers is often limited to just a few minutes. In this instance, use your pitch to quickly make a good first impression and stand out from other candidates. When you introduce yourself to an employer at a career fair, lead with your elevator pitch but try not to jump into it immediately. First, exchange names and greetings, then the employer will likely reply with, “Tell me about yourself.” If they don’t, then you could say, “I’d love to tell you about myself—would that be ok?” Then begin your pitch.
Related: How to Get the Most Out of Job Fairs
During professional networking or membership events
Whether you are actively looking for a new job or simply interested in meeting new people, use your elevator pitch during professional events to build your network. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that someone has advice, helpful connections or an interesting opportunity for you based on the experience and passion you mention in your pitch. On the other hand, you may be able to help someone else in their career after sharing your pitch if you have experience they’re looking to gain.
For internal networking
Internal networking refers to exchanges you have with peers or leaders within your current workplace. An internal networking opportunity might occur spontaneously when you introduce yourself to someone in the minutes before a meeting, while collaborating on a project or maybe even when sharing an actual elevator or other common space. This kind of interaction can also be planned. For example, if you are interested in becoming a business manager, you could approach a business manager at your company and use your elevator pitch to propose an informational interview to learn more about their role.
In your online profiles
Include a written version of your elevator pitch in your online profiles to “introduce” yourself to employers virtually. This can help recruiters find you in a targeted search and encourage them to contact you. It can also generate higher quality contacts from employers since you are proactively addressing what kind of opportunities interest you and the skills you bring.
How to write and deliver an elevator pitch
Your elevator pitch should answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
What do you want?
1. Start by introducing yourself
As you approach someone to pitch to at an event, interview or anything in between, start off with an introduction. Start your pitch by giving your full name, smile, extend your hand for a handshake and add a pleasantry like, “It’s nice to meet you!”
2. Summarize what you do
This is where you’ll give a brief summary of your background. Include the most relevant information such as your education, work experience and/or any key specialties or strengths. If you’re not sure what to include, try writing everything that comes to mind down on a piece of paper. Once you’ve recorded it, go through and remove anything that’s not absolutely critical to explaining your background and why you’ve got what your audience may be looking for (you might consider the most important highlights on your resume). Once you’ve got it down to a few points, organize them in a way that makes sense in your story.
Here’s an example:
“Hi, my name is Sara. It’s so nice to meet you! I’m a PR manager with a special focus in overseeing successful initiative launches from beginning to end. Along with my seven years of professional experience, I recently graduated with my MBA from XYZ University, with a focus on consumer trust and retention…”
3. Explain what you want
This step will depend on how you’re using the pitch. The “ask” of your pitch could be a consideration for a job opportunity, internship or simply to get contact information. This is a good opportunity to explain the value you’ll bring, why you’re a good fit for a job, or generally what your audience has to gain from your interaction. Focus on what you have to offer during this section of the speech.
Let’s go back to Sara’s pitch:
“Hi, my name is Sara. It’s so nice to meet you! I’m a PR manager, specializing in overseeing successful initiative launches from beginning to end. Along with my seven years of professional experience, I recently received my MBA with a focus on consumer trust and retention. I find the work your PR team does to be innovating and refreshing—I’d love the opportunity to put my expertise to work for your company…”
4. Finish with a call to action
You should end your elevator pitch by asking for or stating what you want to happen next. If you feel an elevator pitch is appropriate for a certain situation, begin with the goal of gaining new insight or determining next steps. Examples can include asking for a meeting, expressing interest in a job, confirming you’ve fully answered an interview question or asking someone to be your mentor.
Asking for what you want can be intimidating, but it’s important you give the conversation an action item instead of letting it come to a dead end. Remember: You’ve just met this person, so make the ask simple with little required on their part. Here’s an example from the pitch we’ve been building:
“Hi, my name is Sara. It’s so nice to meet you! I’m a PR manager, specializing in overseeing successful initiative launches from beginning to end. Along with my 7 years of professional experience, I recently received my MBA with a focus on consumer trust and retention. I find the work your PR team does to be innovating and refreshing—I’d love the opportunity to put my expertise to work for your company. Would you mind if I set up a quick call next week for us to talk about any upcoming opportunities on your team?”
If they agree to your request, be sure to thank them for their time and get their contact information. End the conversation with a concise and action-oriented farewell, such as, “Thank you for your time, I’ll send you a follow-up email tonight. Have a great day!”. If they don’t agree to your request, gracefully end the conversation with a polite, “I understand, thank you for your time! If it’s all right, I’ll send you a follow-up email and see if there’s a better time for us to connect.”
Ways to avoid common mistakes in your elevator pitch
Sounding too rehearsed can make the conversation feel forced, so do your best to deliver your elevator pitch with a conversational tone. You might find it helpful to write your pitch down in abbreviated bullet points. When you practice giving it, you’ll train yourself to remember ideas instead of memorizing a direct script which can make your presentation sound more organic. It’s okay if your personal preference is to memorize your pitch—if this is the case, then try to practice it until it feels natural to say it aloud.
Slow it down
If you speak too quickly, the listener might miss some important information. Give your elevator pitch at a slower, thoughtful pace to ensure they have time to process what you’re saying. It might be your natural tendency to speak quickly or it may occur if you feel nervous. Regardless, make a conscious effort to reduce your speed and incorporate this strategy when you rehearse your pitch. (Tip: taking relaxed, deep breaths can help slow your speech. Breathe in over the course of four seconds and out for four seconds to find a good pace.)
Use one pitch for most (but not all) occasions
You may not need to customize your elevator pitch for all audiences. It’s a good idea to have one general pitch that you can use at any moment, but you should try to tailor your pitch whenever you can. For example, if you are approaching a start-up company’s booth at a career fair, you could include in your pitch why you’re especially excited about start-up businesses. The more personalized your ideas are, the more likely you are to get a positive result from the conversation. It shows your depth of interest and respect for the listener’s time.
Make it easy to understand
Use plain language in your elevator pitch that all audiences can understand. For instance, if you include a lot of technical jargon and industry-specific terms that only someone with your skill level would know, then you might alienate a recruiter, or anyone else, who doesn’t have the same level of knowledge. This can make it difficult for them to ask you follow up questions and it might make them less likely to continue the conversation with you. Save niche terms for a technical interview, and make your pitch easy for everyone to follow.
Elevator pitch examples
Let’s take a look at some additional elevator pitch examples from a variety of job titles and situations you can refer back to when creating your own:
Context: In an interview
Job Title: Executive Assistant
“Hi, my name is Mark. Thanks so much for sitting down with me today. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I’ve spent the last three years building professional experience as an Executive Assistant. I’ve successfully managed end-to-end event coordination and have generated a strong professional network for my colleagues. I was excited to learn about this opportunity in the sports management space—I’ve always been passionate about the way sports bring cultures together and would love the opportunity to bring my project management and leadership abilities to this position.”
Context: Seeking a mentor
Job Title: Graphic Designer
“Hi, I’m Molly, so nice to meet you! I’m a Graphic Designer at ABC Inc., where I’m passionate about creating beautiful, intuitive designs for a variety of marketing collateral for our top-tier clients. Before that, I got my Masters in Graphic Design. I’m looking for experiences to learn more about career paths and ways to grow into assuming an Art Director role in the next few years. Your work with XYZ brand has inspired the ways I think about design—I would love to talk more about a potential mentorship with you if that’s something you have time for and would be interested in.”
Context: Adding a contact
Job Title: Business Analyst
“Hello! My name is Anwar, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I have a background in Business Analytics with just over 10 years of experience creating data-driven solutions for various business problems. Specifically, I love and have had great success in the strategic evaluation of data analysis with our executive staff. It sounds like you do similar work—I would love to keep in touch to learn more about what you and your company do.”
Context: Seeking a job opportunity
Job Title: Media Planner
“Hi, I’m Tom. I’ve spent the last eight years learning and growing in my role as Media Planner, where I’ve developed and optimized strategic media plans for our top client and managed a subset of planners as a Team Lead. One of my proudest achievements was a pro-bono project that was recognized as a top non-profit campaign last year. I’ve been interested in moving to non-profit for quite a while, and love what your company does in education. Would you mind telling me about any media planning needs you may have on the team?”
Elevator pitch final tips
After you’ve taken time to develop a pitch that’s focused on your background and immediate goals, practice and refine it. Reading your elevator pitch out loud to yourself can reveal any mistakes, opportunities for better wording or extraneous information that might distract from your main points. Ask a friend to help you practice out loud and give feedback to start polishing your speech. Here are a few tips on delivery as you practice:
Take your time
An elevator pitch is a quick conversation by nature, but try to avoid speaking too fast. Keeping your pitch to around 75 words should help you deliver optimal information in a clear, digestible way. Be mindful of rushing through it or trying to add in too much information.
Make it conversational
It’s good to plan your elevator pitch out ahead of time and practice, but you should avoid sounding rehearsed in delivery. A good way to keep the pitch conversational is to memorize a general outline or key points of your speech. Keep this structure in the back of your mind and adapt your pitch for each person you give it to. For example, if you’re talking to someone you’ve just met, keep the conversation general, focused on your background and possibly state if you’re seeking new opportunities. If you’re talking to someone you want to work with, it’s important to refer to their open position or company, and how specifically you can provide value.
Even the best elevator pitch can lose its effectiveness if your delivery lacks confidence. Keep your chest high, shoulders back and smile when meeting someone and delivering your pitch. Use a strong speaking voice to show confidence in your experience and what you want in the future. If you’re nervous, try mentally reversing roles: If you were the person being pitched to, you’d likely be happy to listen and help the inquirer as best you could.
There is potential that your audience won’t be open to hearing your pitch. If it’s not the right time or the person you’re speaking to doesn’t seem receptive, gracefully drawback. If you’ve asked for an in-person meeting and they’ve said no, you can ask if they’d prefer email or a phone call. If you get the sense at any point that the conversation is an inconvenience, leave the interaction with empathy for your audience or consider negotiating for a lesser ask. You could request to hear about their career path and give them the chance to share their pitch or you could ask for an introduction to someone else if appropriate.
Developing an elevator pitch one step at a time makes it simple to create a speech that can be used in any professional situation. Elevator pitches can be helpful as you take them into your next networking event or interview. Your elevator pitch could be the beginning of a new opportunity, so draft, review, refine and deliver with confidence.