There are certain soft skills that every student needs in order to be successful, regardless of major or intended field. That's a truth we hold dear at Student Success U. Knowing how to ace an elevator pitch is one of those skills.
The whole idea of the elevator pitch (also commonly referred to as elevator speeches) tends to come pretty naturally to students of business. For those of us who don't fall into that category, there isn't always guidance on this front. Before I was introduced to them, I had no idea what an elevator pitch even was.
So what is an elevator pitch? Why are they so important?
An elevator pitch is a quick 20 - 30 second speech. Think of it as a very short, super condensed presentation. It's the Sparknotes version of whatever you're selling. What you’re selling could be anything, including a product, an idea, budget proposal, and - perhaps most importantly - yourself.
In other words, these pitches are important and relevant to all aspects of life, personal and professional. It's a skill employers look for because strong pitchers (probably not a thing, but we’re coining it now) know how to boil something down into its essence. There's no time or words wasted.
First and foremost, elevator pitches rely on a beginning, middle, and end, which should be some sort of outcome or next step. They're labelled as such because each point builds upon the last, much like an elevator carries its passengers from the ground floor all the way to the top. In the same way, your elevator pitch is a vessel for an idea. Using these pitches effectively increases your marketability precisely because they are the hallmark of a great communicator. But they should always end with a next step.
Not all elevator pitches have the same goal. In fact, they shouldn't. Each is unique to a specific time, place, audience, and idea. While it's good to have a general stock pitch in reserve, it's more important to learn the basic structure and rhythm. Some pitches are brutally short. Others are slightly longer, and spend time establishing a story. Nevertheless, they all share a few common elements. Strong pitches typically establish a mood or seek to invoke an emotion. They identify a need, and then provide an answer to that need. They stay on message, and have a point of action. As mentioned above, there's a clear beginning, middle, and end.
The art of giving an effective pitch takes some perfecting. For many, it's an acquired skill. Most job descriptions will never specifically ask for it by name, but those who master the pitch are more likely to stand out, get noticed, rise through the ranks, and ultimately earn more. That's because pitching is not only just a communication skill, it's a leadership skill too.
Today's challenge is to make a pitch to a friend or roommate. Pick someone who is driven and you know will take it seriously. Take turns pitching ideas or products; the funnier or more ridiculous the better. You can jot down bullet points about whatever you're pitching if that helps to get started. Your goal is to get so good at making a pitch that it doesn't matter what it is, people will want to buy what you're selling.
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Alex is Director of Content at Student Success University. When not drinking tea, discussing the finer points of English cheese, or being accused of general ‘snobbery’, he can be found in the library or on the archery range, recounting charming tales from his youth to anyone who will listen. Generally a bit of a jokester, he is quite serious about commas.