Everyone talks about nailing their elevator pitch. In fact almost all job-search advice cites the elevator pitch as being a key piece in the job-search process. For those who need reminding, the elevator pitch is a 3 minute ‘ad’ for yourself, named for the amount of time you may have when riding in an elevator with someone you want to impress.
The approach that most people take to developing their pitch is pretty basic.
1) Think of the message you want to communicate
2) Think about the major points you want to raise
3) Run the dialog through your head
4) Repeat ’3′ until you are comfortable that you will be able to say it out loud without messing-up
This is the easy way to develop your pitch. Unfortunately, this approach results in some very ‘crappy’ pitches. Why? Because it is easy and comfortable to ‘think’ you have the pitch down when what you have are some connected points BUT there is a big difference between ‘thinking’ you have the pitch down, and practicing the pitch, out-loud many times until you can repeat it without pause and pretty-much without thinking.
The basic problem is that there is a huge difference between something we ‘think’ we can say, and actually saying it correctly and eloquently under pressure. I find that this habit gets worse the more senior you are. While this may sound counter-intuitive, senior people are more susceptible to this issue. The problem is that senior people are generally more confident in their ability to ‘ad-lib’ than junior folks, and it is this belief that gets them into trouble.
Think you have your pitch down?
1) can you say your pitch three times in a row and bring up the exact same points and messaging?
2) when you are in a networking group and you are asked for your pitch are you hesitant?
3) can you say your pitch without vocal pauses (‘umm’s and ‘ahhh’s)
4) can you say your pitch with good intonation and pacing (I listen to a lot of elevator pitches that sound like “IaminterestedinajobinmarketingmybackgroundisinbusinestoconsumermarketingandIwasresponsible….”
Basically, you should have your pitch down to such an extent that you don’t even have to think about it, you simply go through what you have memorized, word-for-word, you can speed it up or you can slow it down. Either way, you have every word, every pause, every compelling intonation – everything memorized.
The simple key to this is to practice saying the pitch out loud until you have it down cold. How do you practice it out-loud? You write it down, word by word, line by line. You have all the time to think about points, language, and pacing. Once you have written it, practice out loud until you can say it in your sleep. If your brain works anything like mine, getting from the brain to the mouth can be risky, and this is a risk that can and should be avoided.
You only have one shot at a great elevator pitch and what you say is as important as how you say it. Not unlike acting, you can know all the lines, but that isn’t the same as being onstage in front of an audience.
Barry at VirtualJobCoach