I’m sure most of you have heard of a 30-second elevator pitch. This is a couple of sentences that describe who you are, what you are doing and what your goals are. I know, it’s a lot to squeeze into 30 seconds, but I’ll give you some tips to help you out.
First, it is important that you understand the story you want to tell others. All this means is that you need to think hard about what you have done in the past, present and future to reach your goal. For example, I was a pretty shy kid who found sports at an early age through afterschool and nonprofit programs. These experiences are why I want to be in a position where I can use sports to make a difference.
Another thing to include in your pitch is what you have done. Again, you don’t have a lot of time to elaborate, but you can talk about specific skills you have developed. For example, I’ve assisted in online auctions, in-kind donations and donor solicitations. This is all summarized as fundraising experience. Everything I did to run the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program at Up2Us Sports built my program management skills.
A lot of people make the mistake of being too long-winded and including too many unnecessary details. An elevator pitch is just supposed to give people an overview. It should be four or five sentences, max. If someone is interested in something you’ve mentioned, they will ask you to elaborate. An example of my elevator speech is below:
Hi, my name is Candace and I’m an MBA/ Masters of Sport Management graduate from UMass Amherst. I love using sports to make a difference, which is why I was an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at two sport nonprofits after graduating from Ithaca College. I've learned everything from fundraising to event planning to program management. In my next step after grad school, I hope to be in a role that uses sport to create positive change in our communities.
Above, I talked about wanting to make a difference and how it has informed my decisions after undergrad. I also talked about what skills I have gained in my roles and what I hope to do after graduate school. In four sentences, you have a good idea about who I am and enough information to ask some follow up questions.
An elevator pitch is something you can use not only at networking events, but also in interviews and on LinkedIn as your bio. The first question in an interview is usually, “so tell me about yourself”. The clearer and more succinct you can be, the better. I usually just add a couple more sentences to my elevator pitch to answer this question like where I’m from and what some of my hobbies are. The last sentence can be, “As you can see based on my passions and experience, I am really excited to be considered for this role.”
Take it from someone who used to hate the idea of networking and elevator pitches before business school, this is a useful skill to have. A pitch is not something you need to memorize, but something you need to practice so that you can adjust it based on the situation. You need it all the time, not just when you are looking for a job. Hopefully, these tips make an elevator speech less intimidating. You got this!