When interviewing and/or networking you will need a solid Elevator Speech. An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.

To craft a great pitch, follow these steps:

  1. Identify your goal
  2. Explain what you do
  3. Communicate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
  4. Engage with a question
  5. Put it all together
  6. Practice

Remember to tailor your pitch for different audiences. In general, you meet the person you’re talking to where THEY are. You won’t have one static/set pitch. If they are a contractor, you’ll discuss construction projects. If they are a manufacturer, you’ll discuss prototypes or assembly or machining. If they are a white-collar business person, you’ll discuss managerial or clerical challenges you’ve been associated with solving. The point is to first find out who they are and what they care about. And interweave your introduction with what you learn.

Based on my experience here are a few elevator pitch mistakes to avoid

(1) Speaking too fast: Yes, you only have about 30 to 60 seconds, but try to avoid cramming 15 minutes of information into one minute.
(2) Using highly technical terms, acronyms or slang: You want your pitch to be easily understood by any audience and that means try to avoid using words that will confuse the average person. The last thing you want is for whoever is listening to you to feel dumb. Remember, think commercial!
(3) Not being focused: This isn’t a general conversation and you’re not discussing the weather (unless that’s your job, in which case, never mind). Keep your pitch clear and focused.
(4) Not practicing what you’re going to say: First, write down your pitch. Read it over. Have your friends and family read it. Does it make sense? Make sure it flows well and that there aren’t any spots that feel rough or awkward. Then practice it. Practice it again. Keep practicing it until it becomes so easy for you to pitch that you can do it at the drop of a hat.
(5) Being robotic: This is all about a face to face interaction with someone you want to impress. Having an easy, approachable, conversational style to your pitch will get you much further than an overly rehearsed monologue approach.
6) Not having a business card or digital contact card: Okay, you’ve sold them on you…now how are they going to get a hold of you when they decide it’s time to bring you in? Make sure you always have something on you to pass on that will allow people to not only remember you, but contact you later on. (7) Not saying anything: It does absolutely nothing for you to have a killer elevator pitch if you never use it.