interview.questionsHave you ever been in an elevator and had someone say “tell me about you”? Me neither!  However, the fact remains that you need an elevator pitch before you realize it and step into the proverbial elevator. The thing is, when the need arises, it’s too late. You of course can’t wait until that moment to think of something articulate and effective to say.

I know this kind of thing pains a lot of people. Most just ‘wing it’ and see what words dribble out. That’s one option but it’s not likely to get you too far. At best, it’ll be a wishy-washy description of what you currently do. At worst, the person comes across as directionless or says something they don’t really mean. Either way, it’s not good.

To help take your pitch from painful to perfect, I’ve created a simple way to script an impactful statement.

Step 1: Who are you?

Are you a student? A current employee wanting to move your way up?

Step 2: What are you passionate about?

What are you interested in, work-wise? Do you read about sustainable finance on the weekends? Daydream about communications? Talk local economic development non-stop?

Step 3: What are you great at?

What are the things that you excel at, that people praise you for, and that come naturally to you? These are your true natural talents, or strengths. You might take them for granted, but they don’t come so easy to everyone else.

Step 4: What do you want to do next?

What’s the dream job? Not five or ten years ahead, but the next move. Maybe you can’t pinpoint the exact title – that’s okay, but be as specific as you can. Often people say, “I’m open to anything”. Then when I start suggesting careers, it turns out they have a good idea of what they don’t want. If you’re unsure, start with what you don’t want and it’ll help you narrow down the goal.

Step 5: Now let’s put it all together.

I am currently <add step one> and I’m especially interested in <add step two>. I’m hoping that with my <add step three>, I can move towards my goal of <add step four>.

So, it might look something like this.

I am currently working in the communications team but I’m especially interested in community outreach work. I’m hoping that with my stakeholder management experience and PR skills, I can move towards my goal of becoming a program director for one of the organization’s key community initiatives.

Step 6: Read it out loud

Do you cringe when you say it? Go back and edit until you can imagine the words flowing naturally. When you’ve got it down, repeat, repeat, repeat. When those elevator doors open (and they will), you’ll thank me. I have absolutely seen this happen and work for quite a few people. One woman was even fortunate enough to have a brand new role created specifically for her because she had such a compelling answer. You can bet her pitch was deliberate and spot on.

Now remember, this is something you can use in all kinds of scenarios. Sometimes the person may not ask you a question so directly, but you can usually work it into a conversation.  One great technique to get this information across without looking like you’re trying to self-promote is to say it all, but follow it up right afterwards with a question, like “What’s your take on that department and where it’s heading?” People love giving advice and opinions.

Pretend you’ve been asked for your pitch right now. See what it sounds like without preparing. Then take five minutes to complete this simple exercise and compare the difference – you can thank me then!

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