Imagine stepping into an elevator alongside influential individuals like Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Folorunso Alakija, or Tony Elumelu. You have a brief moment to introduce yourself and make a compelling impression that may lead to further discussions. This scenario is not far-fetched; chance encounters can be transformative. One such encounter occurred when I found myself sharing an elevator ride with a major Career Influencer. In that fleeting moment, I had the opportunity to leave a lasting impression and establish a connection. This experience made me realise the importance of crafting an elevator pitch that captures attention and sparks interest, as it can open doors to unexpected opportunities.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a concise statement that encapsulates who you are and showcases your best assets. It derives its name from the limited time frame, lasting about 118 seconds, which is roughly the duration of an elevator ride. The pressure to make a memorable impression within such a short span can be overwhelming. However, with careful preparation, an elevator pitch can become a powerful tool in your professional arsenal.
Consider the example of Sarah, a recent graduate in computer science. Sarah had perfected her elevator pitch, highlighting her academic achievements, such as winning a prestigious coding competition and her ability to adapt to emerging technologies. This pitch helped her secure an internship opportunity with a renowned tech company during a chance encounter with a top executive in an elevator. It exemplifies the potential impact of a well-crafted elevator pitch.
The Three Principles
These three fundamental principles should guide your approach to creating an effective elevator pitch.
- Brevity: In a world characterised by information overload, brevity is paramount. You must distil your value proposition into a concise message that captures attention. Think of Jeremy, an aspiring graphic designer. His elevator pitch focuses on his ability to blend creativity with technical skills, emphasising his experience in leading design teams for high-profile projects. By keeping it concise, Jeremy ensures that his pitch engages the listener and leaves a lasting impression.
- Skills and Benefits: Your elevator pitch should clearly articulate the skills you possess and the potential benefits you can offer to the person or their organisation. Consider the example of Maya, a marketing professional seeking new opportunities. Maya’s elevator pitch highlights her expertise in digital marketing strategies and her track record of increasing brand visibility and driving revenue growth for her previous employers. By emphasising her skills and quantifiable achievements, Maya positions herself as a valuable asset to potential employers.
- Ambition and Growth: People and organisations value individuals who display ambition, adaptability, and a drive for growth. Your elevator pitch should reflect these qualities. Take the example of Mark, an ambitious entrepreneur. In his elevator pitch, Mark not only highlights his successful startup ventures but also expresses his passion for innovation and his desire to disrupt traditional industries. By showcasing his ambition and openness to change, Mark piques the interest of potential investors and collaborators.
Crafting Your “I AM” Elevator Pitch
The “I AM” framework can be a helpful guide to structure your elevator pitch effectively.
Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself with your first name, surname, discipline, and qualification. Share some distinguishing achievements from your academic journey or relevant experiences. For instance, John, a recent graduate in finance, might mention his distinction in financial analysis and his leadership role in a university investment club. John establishes credibility and demonstrates his proactive attitude by highlighting his academic excellence and extracurricular involvement.
Assets: In this section, highlight your unique skills and strengths that set you apart. Think of Amanda, a project manager with excellent communication and problem-solving abilities. In her elevator pitch, Amanda emphasised her proficiency in leading cross-functional teams, resolving conflicts, and delivering projects on time and within budget. By showcasing her valuable skills, Amanda positions herself as a capable project manager who can drive success in any organisation.
Mission: State your goal, making it SMARTER (Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluated, and Readjusted). Consider the example of Alex, a software developer aiming to contribute to the field of artificial intelligence. In his elevator pitch, Alex articulates his desire to develop cutting-edge AI algorithms that enhance automation and improve efficiency across various industries. By aligning his mission with a specific domain and emphasising the broader impact of his work, Alex captures the interest of potential collaborators or employers.
Owning Your Elevator Pitch
To truly own your elevator pitch, follow these steps:
- Organise: Write a summary of your speech, ensuring logical arrangement and proofreading for clarity. Let’s revisit John’s elevator pitch: “I am John Thompson, a finance graduate with a distinction in financial analysis. I also served as the president of our university’s investment club, overseeing successful investment strategies that outperformed the market.”
- Act It Out: Roleplay your pitch with a friend, seeking feedback on delivery, eye contact, and body language. Let’s imagine Amanda practising her elevator pitch with a trusted colleague. By receiving constructive feedback and making necessary adjustments, Amanda refines her delivery and appears confident and engaging.
- Be Ready: Prepare your elevator pitch in advance and remember your key selling points. Imagine Sarah, the aspiring graphic designer, always having her elevator pitch ready. During a chance encounter with a renowned design agency’s creative director in an elevator, Sarah confidently showcases her skills and achievements, leaving a lasting impression and paving the way for future opportunities.
Mastering the art of the elevator pitch empowers you to seize unexpected opportunities and leave a lasting impression on influential individuals. Consider the examples of Sarah, Jeremy, Maya, Mark, John, Amanda, and Alex. Each of them harnessed the power of a well-crafted elevator pitch to make a memorable impact. By practising and refining your elevator pitch, you can confidently navigate chance encounters, open doors to exciting possibilities, and set yourself apart in a competitive professional landscape. Share your “I AM” elevator pitch in the comments below, and let’s collectively refine our communication skills for success in any role.