What is an elevator pitch? Well, if by happenstance, you find yourself stuck in an elevator with the CEO of your dream company you have between 30 and 60 seconds to win him/her over. This small window of time where you convince the CEO that he needs you in his company is called an elevator pitch. This type of situation happens more often than you might think, thus, it’s of utmost importance that you have a well-rehearsed outline of what you’d say so that when the time comes, you’re prepared.

In this article we’ll break down how to write an elevator pitch, how to use the time you’ve got, and explain why having one of these speeches in your back pocket is essential as you approach graduation and enter the workforce.

The point of an elevator pitch is to give you a platform to share your expertise while also letting your audience know why you’re be the best fit for their company. It is of paramount importance that you include why you’d be a unique asset, thus answering the most important question every businessman wants to know which is: what’s in it for me? As much as your experience and character might be awesome, if you can’t bring anything novel to the company, you’ll easily be overlooked (forbes.com).

Before starting to formulate your elevator pitch it’s important to define the field and type of job you’re pursuing, “Until you can clearly explain the type of position you want, nobody can help you find it or hire you to do it” (forbes.com).

Once you’ve established the specific market you want to work in, you can start creating a speech that ultimately is supposed to sell yourself. We suggest writing your speech on paper so that you don’t forget or repeat yourself. Begin by generating a list of bullet points of all the factors you’d want to include. This list should consist of everything you’re proud of, makes you unique, and you believe is a great personal selling point. Once you’ve written everything down, mercilessly cross out all the points that you think are generic or not essential to mention (forbes.com).

An elevator pitch should not be a speech summating your life’s work nor a laundry list of your accomplishments – it should include a couple of themes that make you qualified and a desirable resource for the company. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of relevant experience, pick out the several bullets that you could talk extensively about, are most distinctive to you and that relate most to the company. These should be recent feats in your life thus unless you won a national award, your high school accomplishments shouldn’t be mentioned in your elevator pitch.

At this point you’ll have a concise outline of what you’re going to include in your pitch and how you’re qualified. As you start writing down your speech it’s important that you also keep the company you’re pitching to in mind. At the end of every few sentences of experience should be a connection of how that point you mentioned benefits the company. If your audience is a PR/marketing agency employee, focus on your interpersonal and social media experience; address what you’ve done to gain an extensive social media presence for an organization or ways in which you’ve represented a product in a case study for class. If you are interested in venture capital, talk about your success in mathematics and finance courses and your experience with the Launch Lab or other entrepreneurial centers that have given you relevant and applicable skills for their firm.

An essential part of your pitch is the WIFT (what’s in it for them), thus continuously going back to how your experience benefits the company shows that you’ve done your homework on them and will also help you better explain how you can directly be a resource.

When ordering your bullet points try to answer three questions in sequential order:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do/ are you looking for?
  • What’s in it for them/ how are you unique? (forbes.com)

As you answer these questions aim to set the tone of your elevator pitch in a colloquial manner. This isn’t the place to throw in fancy industry jargon, stick with common vernacular so that anyone can understand what you’re saying. Writing your pitch with a storytelling undertone can help you come across as authentic. This is very important. After all, people do business with people, not companies. In your elevator pitch being relatable and conversational can help your audience see your personality and why you’d not only be beneficial to the team but someone enjoyable to work with. Keep in mind that we write differently than we speak, thus before you whip out this pitch in a professional setting make sure to read it out loud a handful of times and ask your friends and/or family for feedback. By practicing aloud, you will have mentally created a logical set of abstract bullet points that you can access in any professional setting instead of a stiff memorized speech.

Essentially the purpose of this pitch is to get you a job, an interview, or a reference. Therefore, after this 30-60 second time slot is up, your audience should be able to walk away from your conversation with a firm idea of your personality and how they could see you in their company or a company they work with. This pitch is about your charisma, how you stand out, and how your unique applicable experience would be a fundamental asset to their team.