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Words that stick

The Elevator Pitch
15 December 2014

You are the answer to someone’s question and the solution to a problem. Most of us usually don’t look at our skills and knowledge from such a perspective, let alone that we put that perspective into words. An Elevator Pitch is a way of providing an comprehensible and interesting explanation of your skills in a small amount of time. The listener gains insight in the way you could be useful with regard to what he or she does.

An Elevator Pitch is not only valuable in the scarce encounters with interesting new contacts, but also in other situations. During a job interview, for instance, you will be asked to present yourself as well. Knowing the right words to phrase who you are gives you an enormous advantage.

Advice to give a great pitch

1. Your Elevator Pitch should indirectly answer three questions: ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is my expertise?’ and ‘What makes me unique?’.

2. An Elevator Pitch takes up about 40 seconds to 1 minute. Keep in mind that it’s easier to expand your story than it is to shorten it on the spot. Be aware of the key components in your pitch. If you happen to have only limited time, than you should know what the core of your pitch is. Try and see if you are able to summarise your pitch into a single sentence. Never try to voice your entire CV, but stick to something that defines you or that makes you unique.

3. Come up with an interesting first sentence. This first sentence is often very similar to the one sentence summary of your pitch.

4. Use formulations that are truly about you. It’s better to say ‘I’ve learned …’, than to say ‘My study teaches students to …’. The latter will make your pitch less personal.

5. Avoid words that downplay your story, such as ‘potentially’, ‘possibly’ and ‘hopefully’. Remain polite, but make sure that you come across as someone with self-knowledge. Know what you do and don’t have to offer.

6. Use understandable words. Jargon is for colleagues only.

7. End your pitch with a request. This could be a request to your conversational partner to explain what he or she does for a living. Likewise, it could be a request to connect on LikedIn or the question whether you could e-mail your CV. An Elevator Pitch is never a monologue, but an element of a satisfying conversation.

Your moment of truth

Most often, you will surprised by the opportunity to give your pitch. No pitch will be perfect. Luckily, you’re not expected to provide a flawless story. Enthusiasm makes up for all the moments at which you can’t find the right words. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, but don’t be too shy either. It’s a fine line between arrogance and modesty. Believe in your skills and talents, because only then will others do so as well. Finally, don’t forget that an Elevator Pitch not only benefits you, but also your listener. After all, he or she prefers to listen to a clear and inspiring story over listening to a story that lacks clarity. This is your moment of truth. Enjoy it.

Last modified:29 November 2019 4.26 p.m.
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