Don’t let your elevator pitch fall short: 4 key components

Think about the last time you answered the question: So what do you do? 

Most of us answered with a pretty standard, canned response. But first impressions count, especially when it comes to your elevator pitch. And, unless there’s a career change or other major life events happen, we don’t mix up our introductions nearly often enough.


But when we change it up, our stories become more interesting. The other person can tell you’re being genuine and honest – and will be more likely to listen to what you’re saying.

Try these simple yet effective tweaks to leave a lasting impression:

  1. One size doesn’t fit all

The term “elevator pitch” is pretty deceptive. A majority of people think the whole “one size fits all” mantra fits here – one speech to recite in any situation.

But like most communication, your pitch should be tailored specifically for your audience as well as your purpose. Odds are you wouldn’t talk to a potential client the same way you’d talk to an industry peer.

Ask yourself: Who am I speaking to and what am I hoping to gain from this exchange?

Answering these questions will help you deliver a relevant and impressive pitch.

  1. Tell your story

When people ask what you do, you likely answer just that – what you do. But a majority of people don’t cover the two most important parts of that question: why and how well they do it.

Use your pitch to insert some of your personality into the conversation. You’re the only person who can tell your story – so tell it in a way that outshines the rest. The more human your speech is, the more genuine you’ll sound, leaving an unforgettable, impactful impression.

The best way to do it: Tell the person about a time you failed. Then include what you learned from that experience and how you were able to fix it.

  1. Look into the future

Your resume is bursting with the places you’ve worked and the experiences and positions you’ve had. But your elevator pitch should differ from your resume by focusing on the future. Zero in on where you’re headed, rather than where you’ve come from.

What are your goals for next quarter or even next year? What projects do you have your hand in? What are you currently working toward?

Remember: Whether it’s networking or a first meeting, people want to get to know you, as well as where your focus and priorities are. Emphasizing these items in your pitch spells it all out.

  1. Have an idea stockpile

You’ve likely been here before: You’ve said your piece … and now there’s an awkward pause while you both figure out what to talk about next.

Since elevator pitches can be a bit forced, you’ll want to plan ahead and come up with a few transition conversation ideas. Stockpile a few ideas – a follow-up question or a funny story you like to tell people. The whole point of an elevator pitch is to start a quality conversation.

An elevator pitch is critical to any leader’s career – especially during this time of year, where we’re meeting people left and right at company parties, luncheons and other events. Give your pitch a New Year makeover and see how it impacts your relationships, both new and old.