If you’re in a meeting-heavy corporate culture, often you’re introducing and re-introducing yourself several times a day. We’ve all seen the variety in how this is done.
From the under-sell approach:
I’m in marketing.
I’m on Michael’s team.
I sit near the women’s room.
To the overshare:
In the 90’s I got divorced and…
Oh no, make it stop—we’re here to talk about SEO!
To the memorable gems that are succinct, articulate and clever—often peppered with an on-brand joke or two. First impressions stick, so why not elevate yourself in those first moments with a thoughtful summary of who you are and what you do. Bonus points if you lighten the mood with a tone that reminds people to stop taking themselves so seriously.
Here’s my framework for developing an Elevator Pitch that feels natural to deliver in a meeting, at a networking event, on an interview or even at a party.
Sentence #1: The Overview
This is a one-sentence overview of who you are and what you do. Easy right? If you don’t have the opportunity to finish the rest of your pitch, this sentence should be able to stand on its own. An ounce of creative thinking can go a long way here. If you come up with a clever and unique way of describing yourself, you’re buying the time and audience attention to finish your pitch.
Sentence #2: Time to shine
Use this space to practice the art of authentic self-promotion. Here’s where you can talk about a couple of strengths, passions or a career highlight. If you’re doing this in a meeting, you’ll want to do your best to make it relevant to the topic at hand, but if you’re networking or at a party—the world is ready and waiting to hear about your quirky talents.
Sentence #3 (optional): For career changers and re-launchers
If you’re using this pitch for networking and interviewing as part of a career change or re-entering the work-force after a break, here’s where you explain that. You can put a neat and tidy bow around it and then MOVE ON. For career transitions, you can explain why transferable skills one, two and three make you qualified for job description requirements four, five and six. When you’re addressing your career break, you can explain that you chose to take three years to focus on raising young children or care for a sick family member, but now you’re excited to use your transferable skills one, two and three at a mission-driven company.
Sentence #4: The ask
This will vary greatly based on where you are and with whom you’re talking. In a meeting, it can be as simple as expressing interest in the topic at hand, gratitude for the opportunity to share the capabilities of your team or even a request for everyone to ask questions throughout so the meeting is more of dialogue than a presentation. When you’re networking, think of something you can ask that might be easy for a person to accomplish and make them feel good to deliver. Perhaps it’s an intro to someone in their network or to think of you when speaking opportunities in your area of expertise arise. Obligatory coach note: remember to return the favor and be generous with what you have to offer. Your generosity feels good and also demonstrates that you’re someone with value and expertise, a leader. In an interview, the ask is fairly obvious, but it bears repeating—your ask should drive home why you’re a good fit for the job.
Once you have a working draft of your pitch, give it the seriousness test. Is there a way to add something funny or at least light-hearted in the first two sentences? Now, practice on people (and pets) in your close-in circle. Make sure it sounds natural and feels like something you would say—and not like a thesis recited by the robot-version of you. When you’re ready to debut your pitch at a meeting or an event, know that it will not come out as perfect as it sounds in your head and that’s OK. It’s a place to start and you can build from there. Notice the difference in the response you get from this new declaration of who you are that goes WAY beyond your former, "I’m with him." Take in the smiles and focus of your audience and know that you did that, simply by owning the space to be the best version of you.