vr, 16/08/2013 - 16:31 -- Greet


In my job with HR Builders I connect HR Interim Managers to challenging HR assignments.

A couple of weeks ago I sent 3 interim managers to a client of mine to have an interview regarding an interesting assignment. Even though one of the ‘candidates’ had the best CV, she was not the one who got the job. When I asked for some feedback, the clients said the interim manager was not able to tell a compelling story about herself and her career, let alone what she could do for the company. He expected somebody able to present herself in 1 to 2 minutes in a strong and confident way. It is clear, my interim manager did not get her Elevator Pitch right.


Important for the Interim Manager

It is very important for freelancers and small business owners to be able to tell the listener who you are, what you do and how you can help him/her. It’s not an autobiography or detailed business plan. It’s you selling yourself in a brief and concise manner, and this in 1 or 2 minutes.

So if you want to go home with that interesting assignment, or you want to make the best out of a networking event, start working on you Elevator Pitch.


it's not about you, it's about them!

Beware! The Elevator Pitch is never really about you, but about the other person and how you can help him/her. Even in networking situations when someone asks ‘What do you do?’, what he/she wants to know is ‘Do I want to get to know this person?’ And remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!


The elevator ride

You might wonder where the name ‘Elevator Pitch’ came from… Actually it reflects the idea that it should be possible to tell your summarized story in the time span of an elevator ride, ie from thirty seconds to two minutes. The idea is that when you accidently meet someone in the elevator, the conversation should be so interesting and value adding that it will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business cards.


->-> Now how do you go about it?

The questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What value do you provide (what problem do you solve)?
  • How do you do it uniquely?
  • Who is your target audience? Whom do you do it for?

Actually it’s more or less the same questions you need to ask yourself when creating your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – want to know more? Read my previous blog post.

How can your Elevator Pitch have the most effect? Here are some tips:

  • Your target audience

You want that next assignment? You want to be introduced by someone? It’s not one size fits all. You might consider different pitches for different situations and target audiences. Put yourself in the mindset of the person you are talking to. How can you help that person?

  • Make it punchy and memorable

Grab them at hello! The first 15 seconds and first 15 words of your Elevator Pitch are the most important. Your Elevator Pitch should be opened with a hook to capture the listener’s attention, something that really entices them to stay with you for the full 60 seconds. Try to express your idea in a personal brand sentence, a differentiating line that positions you differently. Make it unique. Why are you different and even better than others?

  • Avoid jargon

Your grandmother or your 7 year old nephew should be able to repeat what you do. Ideally you want the listener to be able to tell others (read: other prospective customers) what you do. Use simple language.

  • Keep it short

Remember, you should be able to deliver your message in a time span of an elevator ride. The perfect pitch should be no longer than 2 minutes. You don’t want to bore the other person and you want to hear his/her story too!

  • It has to roll off your tongue

Practice! However beware, it has to seem natural and conversational, even spontaneous, like you just thought of it at that moment. Even though you have to prepare it in advance, you don’t have to memorize it. It shouldn’t sound like a rehearsed lesson. It’s best if it is a little different each time.

  • Give it attitude

You have to believe in your Elevator Pitch. Tell your story enthusiastically and with confidence. Smile because that communicates warmth and confidence and you come across as engaging and someone people would like to know more about. You have to be passionate about your story/idea. Show emotion.

  • Call to action

You don’t want to end the conversation there. You want to have a conversation. You possibly want an appointment or something else. Well it’s time for some action! Ask for it. Fix that meeting. Ask what you came for.


And remember – it ain’t cast in iron. Your Elevator Pitch is something that you will be working on, tweaking, and perfecting for the rest of your life. It’s like your CV but better, because it’s more casual, more nuanced, and has more of your personality in it.


PS: Want to read a good book about Elevator Pitching and Personal Branding? Go and buy “You are a Brand” by Catherine Kaputa.


Now it’s your turn. Do you have an Elevator Pitch? Tell me! 

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