Perfecting Your Personal Pitch or 30-second Elevator Speech

Re-sharing this article that was originally published by Maria Kuntz, faculty for the Communication Management Master of Arts Program at DU. 

An elevator pitch is a short introduction of your career skills, experience and interests. It’s designed to help you briefly communicate your personal brand any time you meet a potential employer, client or contact. The term “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver your personal self-marketing summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately 30 seconds to two minutes.

The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride, or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting. When you only have a few minutes of someone’s time, having a well-prepared, elevator pitch can make those few minutes count. A successful pitch is where the other person relaxes and says, “Interesting. Tell me more.”

CREATING YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

  • Keep your commercial simple and brief, and always include who you are, what you want to do and why it matters (or what the employer/client will get out of it).
  • Use a story or example to demonstrate your best qualities.
  • Use strong, action-packed words and speak in a confident, personable tone.
  • Be relevant. List the accomplishments (paid, unpaid, work, education or life experiences) that are relevant and compelling to your audience.
  • If job searching, be clear about the job title, function and industry you are interested in.
  • Practice your commercial, but don’t memorize; you want to sound natural!
  • Make a connection between yourself and your new acquaintance. End with a question to draw the contact into the conversation.

WHERE TO USE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

  • in an interview, in response to, “Tell me about yourself.”
  • in a follow-up phone call or email, to summarize your qualifications and interest
  • while networking, to help you make a clear, positive first impression
  • at a career fair, to introduce yourself quickly to employers

SAMPLE ELEVATOR PITCHES

International Security 
Hello. My name is Eileen Conner. I’m a 2nd year International Security candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies with recent experience at the U.S. State Department analyzing historical datasets regarding nuclear non-proliferation. I have experience developing policy memos that incorporate complex data. I have been very interested in the work your organization is doing in the Middle East and I was wondering if you have a few minutes to speak with me about career paths in your organization.

Human Rights & Development 
My name is Ritchie Evans, and I just graduated from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies with focus in International Development and a Global Health. I recently returned from South Africa where I was working with the International Red Cross. I helped coordinate a strategic plan on a national Tuberculosis campaign that included writing a $40,000 grant proposal to support their education and outreach program. I recently submitted my resume to your organization for the Development Director position posted through the Office of Career and Professional Development at DU. Would you have a few moments to discuss your experience with the organization?


Linkedin Learning also has some great resources if you are looking for some additional ideas on how to develop your 30-second speech. Need some help crafting your pitch? Schedule an appointment on PCO or email us at korbelcareers@du.edu.

By Jamie Polliard
Jamie Polliard Internship Program & Office Manager Jamie Polliard