Rise to the Top Floors

Businesspeople in elevator

It used to be that you only needed an elevator pitch if you were actually pitching something—a project, a start-up, yourself as a job candidate. But these days, as every workplace gets more entrepreneurial and networking becomes more important, you never know where your next opportunity might come from. So we all need to be able to succinctly describe who we are and what we do. Here are the essential elements.

Think it through. 
The point of your pitch is to convey one or two essential things you want your listener to remember about you. To brainstorm possibilities, you might make a list of how other people—friends, supervisors, or coworkers, or your mom—would describe you when you’re at your best.

Keep it short. 
Aim for no more than 30 to 60 seconds—any longer and your listener can’t focus.
Keep it focused. 
Don’t throw out too much information. It’s better to present two or three accomplishments well than give a rundown of your entire career.

Make it a two-parter.

Ideally, you want your pitch to convey both what you do and what direction you see yourself heading in. Try something like, “I’m a human resources director with great listening skills, and right now I’m really excited about the unconscious bias training we’re developing for senior leaders.”

Project confidence.

Stand up straight. Look the other person in the eye. Breathe from your belly. Smile. Speak in a strong, clear voice.


Doing all this is harder than it sounds. You can start by practicing in front of a mirror, but even better is to find a trusted colleague—or several—and try out your pitch. You need to refine your words and delivery until both feel confident, natural—and exactly like you.

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