Elevator Pitch

You have probably heard the term ‘elevator pitch’ or ‘elevator speech’.  The term comes from the idea that you enter an elevator and discover you are face-to-face with the CEO of the company you work for (or wish to work for).  You only have the time it takes for the elevator to reach the top floor (30 – 60 seconds) to make an impression.  How would you take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity?

Having a great elevator pitch is key to taking advantage of any marketing opportunity where your aim is to impress your audience in a very short space of time.  You could use your elevator speech anywhere – sitting next to someone on a plane, at a party, at a networking event or maybe even in an elevator.

Preparing and practicing your elevator speech is the key to delivering an outstanding introduction. You need to work out what you want to say and then practice it until it sounds natural and confident.

The three main points you want to cover are:

Who you are: Practice on a friend.  Approach them as you would a new contact, state your full name, smile and extend your hand for a handshake.  You can add something like “It’s great to meet you”.

What you do: What you say here will depend on the context and who you are talking to.

  • If you meet someone on a plane you may just need a brief statement about what you do and where you do it i.e. I am a final year Social Work student at James Cook University and I am really interested in taking my career in the direction of youth mental health.
  • If you meet someone at an industry event, you will want to take the opportunity to talk more fully about your study/work experience and what you hope to do next i.e. I am a Social Worker based at Youth Link in Cairns and I am currently working on a project with a multi-disciplinary team. We are hoping our project will lead to less homelessness amongst the youth of the city and we are currently looking for sponsors/participants/collaborators.

What you want: This is the ‘ask’ part of your pitch.

  • Do you want to make industry connections, ask about internships, or are you just interested in finding out more about your companion? i.e. I am really interested in a summer internship with your company as I would love the opportunity to see more about XYZ project.
  • To keep the conversation flowing, you could simply ask the other person a question i.e. How did you get started in your career in marketing/sales/science?

Tips for your Elevator Pitch

  • Keep your brand in mind
  • Remember the power of first impressions
  • When introducing yourself, don’t use jargon or technical language – explain yourself simply
  • Don’t speak too quickly
  • Keep to the point
  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Be confident in what you are saying
  • Avoid sounding rehearsed in delivery – just memorise the general outline of your speech, not word for word
  • Be ready to adapt your speech depending on the audience
  • Your elevator speech is the start of a conversation not a script

Example: My name is Siri and I’m studying Information Technology at James Cook University, and I am looking to increase my UX Design experience.  During my work experience with Safety Culture, I became really interested in tech solutions for process problems, especially how user design impacts on this.  I’ve noticed how this could benefit so many different industries, and even see how it could improve my barista job.  I’d love to be able to work on something like this when I graduate.

Action: Go to your downloaded workbook and complete Activity 4

Elevator Speech and Interviews

Your elevator speech can also be used in an interview situation. Often the first ‘ice breaker’ question is ‘Tell me about yourself’. If you answer this well, you can set the scene for a successful interview and help you to relax and perform well.

To find out more about acing interviews, go to the JCU Careers and Employability website and log on to Big Interview. Head to the ‘Mastery Track’ section and select Acing Common Interview Questions. You can also complete the Interviews and Recruitment Processes module in the JCU Employability Edge program.

Additional Resources

  • Login to LinkedIn Learning through the JCU website and then search for the video ‘Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch’