Very concise presentation of an idea covering all of its critical aspects, and delivered within a few seconds (the approximate duration of an elevator ride). (businessdictionary.com)
The elevator pitch: a term mired in mystery in which outcomes lead to one extreme or the other: despair or greatness. But how can someone possibly fit all the critical aspects of an idea into just a few seconds yet still be captivating? Is this a skill one is born with or is it something developed over time?
If you are still reading, then you are experiencing the importance of the elevator pitch. What you read in the first few lines of this post was interesting enough for you to read more! People have short attention spans and people care about things that are relevant to them. The more relevant you are to a person, the longer they will give you their attention. The trick is quickly convincing someone that you are worth more of their time. When approaching a boss, CEO, HR Manager, or anyone else you would like to get a word in edgewise, the more of a stranger you are to them, the less time you have to capture their attention…so capture it fast.
Marketing yourself is one of the most difficult things to do because there is so much that you think is great about you. Think about it – when you are writing your resume it typically takes a while to cater it to the specific job you are applying for because you are trying to decipher which experiences you have are the most relevant to the person reading the resume. Its natural, everyone thinks that what they are doing is really important. Why else would they be doing it?
Put yourself in the shoes of the listener. What does he/she want to hear from you? What do they value? Those are your “critical aspects”. If you have an idea that could increase the productivity of you and your coworkers without adding any work hours, but your boss only values cutting costs, you shouldn’t lead with “I have a plan to increase the productivity of coworkers.” Rather, you should lead with “I can help you cut costs by 22% through this plan to increase productivity of myself and my coworkers.” You have caught your boss’s attention by stating a specific percentage of reduced cost which made him/her want to listen to the rest of what you are saying.
The point is that people only want to listen to things or to people that appeal to them. The less a person is interested in you, the more you have to speak in terms of what they want to hear. The more a person is interested you, the more likely they are to listen if even if they don’t care about what you are saying.
There are tactics to knowing what a person wants to hear or what they care about. There are also tactics to applying your experiences to those things a person cares about. Sometimes it requires building rapport with a person first on a completely irrelevant topic to what you would like to speak about (but something that the other person highly cares about) and then bringing up your ideal conversation to that person.
Even if your first few attempts at marketing yourself to others doesn’t turn out as you would like, keep pivoting and working on new ways to improve your pitch.
Pivoting is not failure, but failure to pivot is.