Giving a Polished Elevator Pitch

Crafting a compelling elevator pitch is essential for making memorable first impressions and seizing career opportunities. With preparation and practice, you can confidently showcase your professional self and make meaningful connections.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Giving a Polished Elevator Pitch

Developing a smooth, engaging elevator pitch is a crucial career skill for making a memorable first impression and standing out from the crowd when networking. This is a short pitch (usually less than a minute) to introduce and promote yourself, and to hook the listener enough that they become eager to learn more about you.

The idea of pitching yourself in this way might seem awkward or exaggerated at first, but there are ways to deliver an elevator pitch that is authentic, honest, and relevant to recruiters. It just takes some prep work beforehand!  

Define Your Pitch Goals

First, be clear on your specific objectives and target audience. Who will you be pitching to, and what do you hope to achieve? Are you aiming to make connections at a networking event? Seeking to impress recruiters at a career fair? Looking to secure a meeting with potential investors for your startup? Or something else entirely? 

Defining your goals and audience will play a huge role in helping you shape your pitch content and delivery strategy. It will help you identify which points are most relevant to get across, and which aren’t.

Research Your Target Audience 

Next, investigate who you will actually be pitching to and what matters most to them. For instance, if pitching a startup idea to investors, research details about their firm and portfolios to understand their priorities. If networking with recruiters, look at what skills and qualities they seek for in their open roles. 

When crafting your pitch, be sure to tailor the content and messaging to your listeners’ needs and interests. For example, tech recruiters want to hear about your programming languages and relevant projects, while investors might be more concerned with your business acumen.

Reflect on Your Relevant Strengths

Create a list of your most impressive skills, experiences, accomplishments, and unique qualities that you can feature in your pitch. Ask yourself questions like: What makes me uniquely qualified and valuable? What relevant knowledge and abilities do I have that would intrigue my target audience? Your goal is then to pick key points from your list that answer those questions.  

For example, if pitching yourself for a software developer job, highlight your technical expertise by mentioning specific programming languages you have experience with or past projects you’ve worked on. If you’re networking with finance recruiters, you can emphasise your related knowledge, leadership experience, and areas of interest in the financial markets.  

Keep it Short and Sweet

Pare all of the above down into a script that you can smoothly deliver within 30-60 seconds. Be sure to cover the following: Who you are, what you want, why you are approaching the listener, and what you bring to the table.  

Structure your content so the flow makes logical sense, and that your points flow into each other. For example: “With my computer science degree and knowledge of Java, Python, and C++, I’m looking to joint a firm where I can leverage my technical abilities to develop innovative mobile applications that can improve daily life for thousands of users.” 

Practice Repeatedly with Feedback

Now that you have your script, you need to work on your delivery. Rehearse delivering your elevator pitch until the entire flow and tone feels natural and conversational instead of stiff, exaggerated, or robotic. Refine your choice of words as needed while practicing – avoid terms that you wouldn’t use in daily conversation. Strive to come across as authentic, passionate, and human.

Time yourself repeatedly; your pitch should last only 30-60 seconds. Omit vague filler words that dilute your message. Providing expanded details and elaboration comes only after you’ve delivered a smooth pitch that effectively hooks your audience. 

Ask mentors or friends to listen to your delivery and provide feedback so you can improve. You can only get so far by talking to yourself, after all. Pay attention to your body language during your delivery too. Make sure you have good posture and maintain eye contact with the listener.  

Adjust your Delivery to each Situation

Be ready to adapt your tone, tempo, speaking pace, emphasis and body language to fit the specific pitch situation. It’s best to practice a few variations, from formal to most informal, so you are prepared for different social settings and situations. 

Actively Engage the Listener

Delivering your elevator pitch is just the first step! After you are done, it’s time to actively engage with your listener. Ask smart questions to find out more about them and their needs right now or to spark more discussion about your background. Listen intently to their priorities and interests. If they inquire further about specific things, like your accomplishments or credentials, make sure you can talk briefly about those as well!

Wrap Up Strong and Follow Through

If your listener seems interested, then conclude your elevator pitch by expressing genuine interest and enthusiasm for connecting further. Ask if you have their consent to follow up with them, and if they say yes, then do so in a timely manner. This could be sending requested information over email or text, connecting on LinkedIn, or scheduling a meeting.  

With enough preparation and practice, honing an impactful elevator pitch allows you to confidently seize opportunities by showcasing your most impressive professional self when it matters most. Keep trying and working at it until you get it just right!