Making a good first impression in a job interview or social situation is not necessarily an easy task. Nerves can come into play and you could come across as someone you really aren’t or even worse, close up with stage fright. Or perhaps, on the other extreme, you over exert yourself and give too much information.
“Most people can’t present what they’ve done effectively,” Paul McDonald, a senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half, told Business Insider. “They’re not used to giving sound bites of what they do.”
Here, McDonald shares his eight steps to crafting the perfect elevator pitch.
- Know exactly what you want to achieve
Your elevator pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? You need to know exactly what you want to achieve or no one can help you get there.
“Take your CV and LinkedIn profile and go through it thoroughly,” said McDonald. If you’re unemployed, focus on where you want to go and what you want to do.
- Bullet point it
After studying your CV and LinkedIn profile, write down four bullet points that explain why you’re great, said McDonald.
Discuss your work history, background, skills, accomplishments, and goals. Omit any irrelevant details that take away from your core message.
- Use the art of story telling
People love stories, McDonald said, so tell them a story. It also makes it easier for others to remember you later on. Its proven that our minds remember details better when there’s a story or association attached to the subject. In other words, if you want people to remember you, tell them a story, and make sure it’s a good one.
- Scrap the jargon
Avoid using acronyms or terminology that wouldn’t be understood by someone outside of your industry, explain things in a simple, effective manner.
Dumbing down complex ideas is a “real art,” said McDonald. A good strategy is to imagine explaining what you do to your parents and using a similar formula in your elevator pitch.
- Make sure it invites conversation
After telling your story, the listener needs to be left wanting more. Is your story compelling enough to do this? If not, you need to change your pitch.
- Time yourself
While practising your pitch, you should time yourself to make sure you can tell your story in 30 seconds. If you can’t, cut down on the details and try again.
- Record yourself on video
Although it doesn’t come naturally to most and may even be a little cringe-worthy, you need to know what you look like to others while you’re telling your story. Are you interesting? Are you believable?
People will come to their own conclusions while listening to you, so make sure you give off a good impression. Relax, act natural, and get comfortable with your story.
- Pitch it to your friends and colleagues
After doing the first 7 steps, practice on your friends and family and ask for their honest feedback and constructive criticism so you can improve.
Keep practising and tweaking your pitch until it’s natural for you to say aloud and convincing to the listener.
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