Home » 19 – Your Personal Elevator Pitch

19 – Your Personal Elevator Pitch

by Jill

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”  – William Shakespeare.

How do you communicate with people in the modern world, whether remotely through video meetings or in-person? Getting that right can help us in so many ways. It can help us build human connections. It can help us with our jobs and our careers, helping us be understood. An elevator speech is going to represent you. It communicates about your professional personality, your present employment, maybe your status, a future job, something unique about your qualities that can benefit anybody in other organizations, your customers, or people inside your organization. It can be used at the beginning of a presentation; when you’re introducing yourself, you have something ready to go to talk to people about what you’re doing if you’re recruiting people for your nonprofit organization. Or maybe you’re looking for donors or volunteers. An elevator speech can help you quite a bit. Perhaps you’re a craft person, and you want to talk about what you love to do. Sometimes it’s just handy if someone says, “So tell me about yourself.”

Another example is my friend who works with a nonprofit organization. And sometimes, it isn’t straightforward to explain exactly what it is that they’re trying to do. Having an elevator speech so that she can define the goals of their organization and the goals of what she does within that organization helps her get her message out. And also, what it helps with is if you tend to be a little bit shy, you don’t like speaking to people, it gives you a practice clip that allows you to fall back on if someone asks you a question.


Sometimes people have them when they’re looking for a job. A lot of job websites encourage you to have an elevator speech. This is about having a very concise idea of what it is we’re trying to explain. It can be anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on the purpose. To give you an example, I have a job that’s hard to explain to people. And so often, I’ll go to conferences, and people will say, “let me know what is it that you actually do?” And the first few times, I would stumble around. Well, I do this, and I do that. And it oh, you know, sometimes I’ll do this too. And people will be more confused sometimes at the end of me trying to explain what I do than it should be. So that’s where I decided to come up with a short elevator speech of my job and how it helps customers explain it very well.

This is not about having a brand. I like the quote from Sheryl Sandberg, “I get this question a lot. I shut her every time. Crest has a brand. Perrier has a brand. People are not that simple. When we are packaged, we are ineffective and inauthentic. What we have is a voice. Don’t package yourself just speak honestly, factually, and from your experience.” And that’s what I’m talking about when it comes to this elevator speech. We’re not trying to come up with a brand. We’re trying to come up with ways to explain something either about us or something that we do, or something we’re trying to accomplish in a very concise manner. It’s also a great idea to have many elevator speeches so that you’re prepared in many different kinds of situations. Maybe one of them has to do with your job. Another has to do with your hobby. And a third one has to do with the volunteer work you do.

A great TED talk was advertised as a 10-minute method of figuring out who you are. But it was an excellent step in actually beginning the essential work of your elevator speech. He asked you to do a couple of things. And I highly recommend looking at the video itself. But he says, you first say your name, who are you? “I’m Jill,” What do you do? “I teach people” Who you do it for? “Anyone who wants to learn something new,” Or if it was work-related, “my customers.” What do they need or want that you can give them “an education about the software my company makes.” How do they need to change as a result? “so they can learn the software and use it in the best possible way satisfying the needs of their organization, their research and their supervisors.” And then you piece the whole thing together. And that’s the beginning of your elevator speech. That’s a great place to start. Notice two of them are about you, but three of them are about other people because he says that you can help them become happier once you know who you are. After all, you have to focus on something that you’re great at on other people. I love that Ted Talk. It was amazing.

The book we’re going to talk about today is a book by David Winegar, The Elevator Pitch of You. He talks about how to come up with an elevator pitch for whatever reason it is you need one. So the first thing this book talks about is how to deliver your elevator speech at least a little bit before we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve written one. He suggests doing this with someone else in the room and say the following sentences. I didn’t say she loved me. I didn’t say she loved me. I didn’t say she loved me. I didn’t say she loved me. I didn’t say she loved me. I didn’t say she loved me. There you go. So the same sentence over and over again can have such a different impact. And that’s why when you’re thinking about your delivery when it comes to anything, you want to think about how much your tone works when going over written material. I have to think about that all the time with the podcast. Sometimes I’ll record something, and I go, “Whoa, that came over way more stern than I really wanted it to be. I kind of thought it was funny, I really meant it to be funny. Let me record that in a different tone.” That’s what happens.


He says that a fair statement divides an elevator speech into four parts.

1.Statement of who you are.

2. Statement of what you offer.

3. How your strengths help you achieve that success.

4. What you value, and how it contributes to making you and those you work with more successful.

The elevator speech is a brief message or a commercial about yourself. They call it an elevator speech because it takes the amount of time you’re in an elevator with someone. So the idea is that if you are suddenly in an elevator with the one person who could make your dream happen, what would you say to them? And then here’s the important thing, you have to practice. Get good at this speech. It’s essential to be able to say it out loud, sound natural, and sound comfortable. So then, when you get into that high-pressure situation, you’re smooth.

Another study by David Sherman in North Carolina State University found that you need to score on certain things for people to really consider what you’re saying or to take to you well. And those four C’s were 1. Capability -They believe that you have the knowledge and skill to get done what you say you can get done or get done the things you hope to do. It builds trust in that person. 2. Caring – I believe you’re on my side. You show that you’re warm, empathetic and that you care about the needs of the person you’re speaking to. 3. Candor -I believe you’re truthful, that you have honesty and integrity, and that you’re not trying to fool me. 4. Consistency -I think you will act reliably. So when you’re considering creating your elevator speech, keep those four C’s in mind. He says that when people are considering someone for a job. Do they consider why anyone would want to spend every day working with you? And how are you going to help the company, most notably me, the interviewer be more successful? And I can tell you after sitting through numbers of interviews, you know, people are fancy, and people try to get all over-practiced in their interviews. But you have to realize that when you’re going in for an interview for a job, or you know, even maybe helping a nonprofit or anything, that person thinks I need help. Is this person going to be someone who helps me and someone I want to be with a lot? Keep in mind that if you are creating any elevator speech, that you want to make sure that people feel like you’re likable and that you’re going to do the thing that you say that you’re going to do.

A woman named Jenny Blake wrote a book called Pivot, which we’ll talk about someday. And she came up with this excellent elevator speech that the author of this book liked. She says, “I’m an author, speaker, career coach, and business strategist living in New York City. I love helping awesome people like you, organize your brain, move beyond burnout, and build a sustainable career you love. I am fascinated for navigating change in a rapidly evolving economy. And I geek out exploring and creating systems at the intersection of the mind, body and business. I live for helping smart, talented, optimistic people like you embrace chaos, fear, insecurity, and uncertainty as a doorway.” And so you can see what she did because she tried to combine all of those things. She explained who she is. She explained what she likes to do. She explains why she’s particularly good at what she does and wants to be helpful and compassionate to people like you. It’s this combination that you’re trying to put together. Now, this particular one is so that she can get people to join her consulting.

Side view of matured African-American businessman practicing for speech in the empty auditorium

Amy Cuddy, who we’ve mentioned before, talks about the “Power Pose,” and Princeton psychologist Susan Riske said people would judge you on two factors throughout the world. Are you friendly, well-intentioned, and competent? So keep in mind how the tone of whatever elevator pitch you’re going to give will show you. Psychologist Nicholas Kervyn found out that when you present people with facts from two different groups of people, one who is warm and cold, they assume that the warm group was less competent than the cold group. So the thing that you want to do is find that balance between friendliness and competency. And when you’re considering your elevator pitch, you want to make sure it expresses those two items.

I’ll tell you that I have historically had a problem where I am a very friendly person, and I had a boss come right out and say to me, “You act so friendly and nice towards people, no one is ever going to take you seriously. And you’re going to have to knock it off with laughing, because as soon as you start to laugh with that laugh, immediately, it removes all credibility from you.” Wow, I can’t be friendly, and I can’t laugh? Wow. And it’s one of those things where you went home on a Friday, and you just sat there puzzling at this. How can I live in this world as a friendly, warm person without acting as a friendly, warm person? And so what you realize is he’s wrong, and you can’t give that up. People like that. But what you have to do is make sure that you show your competency, as much as you show your warmth, show that you’re talented, that you know what you’re talking about, that you absolutely can help them. And that will help you, even if you’re a nice person, and where it helped me because I did not give up the warmth, people come to me after classes or conferences. “I’m really struggling with this. Do you think we could sit down later today at dinner, and you can explain this to me?” and people come to me when they’re concerned that they can’t understand something. They feel like they should, but they know that I’m not going to be that person who shuns them. And that builds bridges with people. And some of those people were the very leaders of the organization. They felt out of touch. They felt like they didn’t understand something. And I was able to win their trust and have them come to me and asked me to help them.

Remember, perception is a big thing when it comes to how you’re going to present yourself even before you have your elevator pitch, and your tone and delivery will help with that perception all the way. So Jeff Bezos, who we all know is the founder of Amazon, said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room,” and he gave a formula that its strength + talent, +- behaviors. And that’s the value to those you serve. Again, we’re not talking about branding, but keep in mind that that’s how other people may rate you.

Part of the book talks about making sure that you use action verbs. Don’t speak passively. When you speak passively, which I have a real tendency to do, it makes you sound weaker than you hope to express. It makes you sound like you’re not an active person. And you can say, I help people succeed because I enable them with the knowledge to do their job the best they can! Action words!  So you want to make sure that you can do that.

Another article talked about how to put together an elevator speech, and it took on different aspects.

  • Keep it brief.
  • Practice it,
  • Be prepared.
  • Know your audience.
  • Verbalize action – Remember, keep those action words going.
  • End your story with a question. It can be as simple as “So what do you do?”


  1. Make sure that you consider your tone every time you’re giving a vocal delivery. And practice with other people to make sure your tone is correct.
  2. Make sure that whenever you speak, you sound capable, caring, that you have candor and consistency. It’ll help you in creating a connection with people.
  3. Make sure you’re warm and competent.
  4. When writing your elevator speech, start with the statement of who you are, a statement of what you offer. A statement of how your strengths will help you achieve success and what you value, and how it contributes to making others around you successful


  • Write an elevator speech, presenting who you are. You can make it about your work, your hobbies, your volunteer life, or anything that you think would be nice to have a quick explanation that you can give to other people.

Our fun movie quote of the day comes from Bull Durham talking about the image that you present.

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the Bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in The Show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes, and the press will think you’re colorful until you win 20 in The Show, however, it means you’re a slob.”

I always love that particular speech because it shows that famous people can get away with things that other people can’t get away with. To give you an example, people in the podcasting world will say, Well, I don’t have to edit my podcast. Joe Rogan never edits his podcast. And the thing of it is, is that maybe when you’re Joe Rogan, or perhaps when you’re a popular podcaster, you might not have to edit your podcast because people will put up with you. But if you’re not Joe Rogan, or if you’re not one of the most popular podcasts in America, listens probably won’t give you that chance. So always keep in mind that when you give these speeches, you want to be yourself. You want to be authentic, but you also want to present the best foot forward.

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