“What do you do?”, “Tell us more about yourself” or “What is your background?” are evergreen questions that you would have encountered countless times in everyday conversations, job interviews and networking events alike.
Occasions like this would be when your elevator pitch comes in – you might have 60 seconds or less to deliver an effective impression and let the other parties know about your work experience, accomplishments and skills.
The term “elevator pitch” plays on the idea that you might bump into an influential person in an elevator. You would then have to effectively promote yourself before you arrive at their floor…and leave your listener interested enough to invite you to a second meeting!
Even if you’re not in an elevator, you still have 60 seconds or less to make a great first impression before you lose your listener’s attention, which makes the perfect elevator pitch so crucial.
These pitches can be used at formal events like career fairs or networking sessions, informal events hosted by companies, or even social events hosted by your friends. With an effective elevator pitch, you can quickly kickstart a conversation and create an impactful first impression.
You only have 60 seconds…or less
A good elevator pitch rarely exceeds 60 seconds. It should also be concise enough for you not to rush through by cramming more words in. Think carefully about the most important information you would like to share about yourself, and simplify them into “bite-sized” pieces that your listener can digest quickly.
How to summarise yourself
Do note that an elevator pitch is not a sales pitch!
When recruiters say, “give us a summary about yourself”, they’re not looking for something like, “Hi, I’m Cherie, I’m a fresh graduate and I’m 22 years old.” Neither do they want to hear about your hobbies or your favourite food(s).
What they really want is a quick recap of your academic and work experience, as well as your reason(s) for applying to the company. An easy way to go about this is to find a theme and stick to it. For instance, the pitch can be anchored on your chosen field of study in university, or even specific causes you’re passionate about.
Once you’ve identified your theme, add in the details such as your academic background, relevant past experiences, goals and skill sets. Figure out what’s important and always keep your points clear and concise – you’re looking to give just a quick glimpse into who you are.
When you have decided what to emphasise, craft these points into a speech that flows well, rather than simply throwing out disjointed facts. Remember: your key objective is to leave a memorable and positive first impression.
Practise, practise, practise!
When put in the spotlight, many candidates often falter due to anxiety and end up leaving less-than-ideal first impressions. This is exactly what you want to avoid. A big part of a successful elevator pitch traces back to the amount of practice you’ve put into it.
The best way to practise is to find a willing volunteer and try your pitch on them. Ask them to point out if you sound awkward or nervous, as well as how you can improve on it. The time spent practising will later stand you in good stead!
This article was first published on gradsingapore.