“An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch should be possible to deliver in the time span of an elevator ride, meaning in a maximum of 30 seconds and in 130 words or fewer.” [from Wikipedia]
It should cover the following information:
- What is the CORE (of your produc, service or project)
- What are the benefites (for the buyer, investor or sponsor)
- Who are you (and why will YOU be successful)
Here are a few more pointers when preparing your pitch, as presented by HBR:
- Think relevant, not recent. There’s no rule that says you must talk about your resume in reverse chronological order. Mike was a marketing executive who took a sales position abroad for two years. Yet when he returned to marketing, he kept introducing himself as a someone who had just made a career switch, always leading off with an anecdote about his short stint in sales. Instead, Mike should have started with the fact that he was a seasoned marketing professional who had taken a sabbatical but was now back where he belonged — putting his marketing prowess to work and thinking about what drives consumer spending habits.
- Focus on skills-based versus situation or industry-based qualifications. You don’t have to have a background in finance to be good at finance. Alex was a chemist and researcher who had gone back to business school to get her MBA. She decided she wanted to work in corporate finance for a large pharmaceutical company but she was afraid no one would take her seriously given her background. When I pressed Alex to explain to me why she chose finance, she exclaimed, “That’s the way my brain works.” Her thinking was methodical, mathematical and formulaic — all of which translated to someone who was a natural fit within a corporate finance department. Instead of focusing on the fact that her background was in academia, Alex could emphasize to colleagues and clients that she was a numbers person at her core.
- Connect the dots — what ties it all together? If you are a chemist turned finance professional or a marketing executive with experience in international sales, you should find a way to bring together the richness of your experiences and show how each one complements the other. For me, personally, I had a significant hurdle to clear with clients as a former Peace Corps volunteer turned investment banker. I explained away the dichotomy of the two by emphasizing to others that I was big picture thinker by nature and a numbers person by training. Banking was a perfect combination of the two — I liked looking at client’s challenges and issues from 30,000 feet and then digging down into the details to come up with creative financing solutions. Whether the client was the mayor of my Peace Corps town in Chile or the CEO of a healthcare company, I could start at a high level and drill down quickly and effectively.
People often think of the elevator pitch as something you use when you’re interviewing for a new job, trying to raise capital for a new venture or trying to lobby for you project. The elevator pitch, however, is no less important once you’ve got the job as it is when you’re looking.
In fact, your 30-second “play” about who you are, how you’re different, and why you’re memorable is arguably more important once you’ve landed that great position or won the support of investors and now interact with senior colleagues and important clients regularly.