Telling Your Story: Create And Practice Your Elevator Pitch

By: Sara Urquhart  Image by: Justin Hackworth

The idea of the “elevator pitch” is born from the scenario in which you find yourself standing next to a potential investor/partner/collaborator in an elevator. You have five floors to tell your story and spark some interest before the doors open and your contact walks out.

While you may not find yourself in this exact situation, crafting the story you’ll tell about yourself is an invaluable professional tool. You’ll be required to succinctly introduce yourself and your work over and over at Alt and anywhere else you’re connecting with new people, so take the time to do it well.

Your elevator pitch will include your name, your business, your passions and expertise, and recent projects. For those involved in multiple projects, you’ll need to edit carefully and choose which aspect of your working life to talk about with whom. If a great conversation develops, that may be a perfect time to share multiple projects and interests, but your elevator pitch will be most beneficial if it is focused on the aspect of your work that’s most relevant to the person you’re meeting or to the project to which you’re most committed.

Begin by brainstorming several phrases about your story—who you are, what you do, what you love. Write a paragraph or two in your natural voice (not too formal or stilted) and then trim it to the three or four most applicable and interesting sentences. Send it to a friend or two for feedback. Then memorize it and repeat it until it feels and sounds natural.

The upcoming holidays are a perfect time to give your elevator pitch a practice run with family or friends. Not only will you improve delivery and confidence, your loved ones will help you ferret out any weaknesses and give you suggestions for improvement. (If their eyes glaze over while you’re talking, be sure to ask for those suggestions.) Don’t underestimate the importance of practicing with real live people. A friend of mine recently crafted his elevator pitch, practiced it a hundred times in the car, and then bombed the first time he tried it in person.

Trust that your work and passions are interesting as your create and practice your elevator pitch, and then share it with confidence.