Yesterday, on Day 16 of the #60Day Challenge, we began building your brand new, conversational elevator pitch. We continue that task today…
As discussed yesterday, the elevator pitch has somehow become known as a boring 30-second monologue delivered at the recipient. We also discussed how we are going to change that.
We started by asking you three questions:
- Who am I and what do I want to do with my life?
- What am I really, really good at?
- What problem am I going to solve?
Today, we’ll put those answers to work. When you’re done, instead of that monotonous speech everyone else delivers, you will be prepared to present a confident self-introduction that both impresses the audience, and lets them know you’ve done your homework. In other words, you’ll start a conversation the recipient wants to continue.
First, let’s take on the “who am I… what do I want to do with my life” question – and remember the ground rules: no clichés; relevant, marketable skills only; and no mention of “student”. So the first sentence of your new elevator pitch delivered may (with abundant eye contact) go something like this:
“Good morning! My name is Roberta Smith. I’m here today because my interest in <activity/cause> goes back to <story relating to that activity/cause>.”
Let’s make that more specific to a real cause: a meeting on non-profits gathering together to discuss a beach clean-up day:
“Good morning! My name is Roberta Smith. I’m here today because my interest in keeping our beaches clean goes back to when I was eight years old and my mother would bring me to the ocean.”
Why does this make you stand out? Because storytellers make the best sellers.
And, because everyone else will say:
“Hi. I’m Robert Smith. I am a student at the University of Oregon, graduating in May 2014 with a degree in blah, blah, blah…”
Why doesn’t this work? Zero relevance to the mission at hand. Zero level of interest from the audience.
Now, for the “what am I really good at question”…
Naturally, your answer to this is going to vary. So let’s keep using Roberta and Robert – and our beach clean-up story as examples. Roberta, who is a natural relationship builder and leader, would continue her elevator pitch like this:
“I’m also here because I’m ready to call on my circle of friends to help with the effort we’re discussing today. I know they care, too… and I know they would love to help.”
Why this works: Roberta has stated a direct benefit to an audience with a mission where help is needed. Roberta stated what she is really good at… without coming out and saying, “I’m a natural leader.”
Robert, who has been trained on exactly what to say and has his elevator speech memorized and ready to deliver regardless of the audience, would simply say, with no context:
“I am a natural leader and a team-player.”
Lastly, there is the “what problem am I going to solve” question. In sales-speak, this is the “close” – the moment where you seal the deal. And in this case, the “deal” is getting your audience, even if it is just an audience of one, to want to talk to you more.
Roberta, who is pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies and is seeking a long-term volunteer assignment or summer internship, would say:
“This isn’t just a one-time project for me; I want to do more. Either as a long-term volunteer or through a summer internship, I’m ready to help.”
Robert would say:
“I currently seek a summer internship, or would volunteer. So, hit me up if you know someone looking for a hard-worker.”
Of course, this is just one scenario. However, this strategy pays off in nearly every situation: informational interviews, job interviews, networking meetings, career fairs…
The key, as you can tell from the examples, is to know the audience’s mission and what problem they need to solve. Yes, that takes a little homework and elbow grease. But look at the results! From the audience’s point-of-view, the value you provide is clear! They will want to continue the conversation you started. And isn’t that the goal of every elevator pitch?
Get busy. Take your answers to those three questions and apply them to every situation; every audience. And next time you have the opportunity to stand out… you will.