How to create your elevator pitch

It would be easier for freelancers to engage that potentially invaluable contact standing aloof or waiting shyly next to them if they knew what to say and where to start.

If the person does emerge as a likely master key to unlock future work, directly or from someone they know, the freelancer should be ready with two words: their ‘Elevator Pitch.’

Although elevator pitches vary in length with their environments – a longer one keynoting a conference than in a lift, they all have several universal features intrinsic to their success.

They are a concise, compelling, targeted and directional series of statements, designed not as much to sell, as to convey to listeners that its author is the best person from whom to buy.

The elevator pitch – whether it spans just a few lines or an A4 side when written – should focus on who you are, how you do it, what you do differently and why you should be hired.

According to Bill and Michael Faust, elevator pitches allow prospective clients to quickly and easily answer the questions ‘what does this person offer me?’ and ‘what is their value add?’

Writing in their seminal book Pitch Yourself, they argue that a good ‘elevator pitch’ – delivering information quickly, as in a 30-second elevator ride - consists of four core elements.

Firstly and most simply, cite your ‘personal details’ – so your title, name, business occupation and, depending on the setting, your contact details.

Secondly compose your ‘personal promise’ – this is akin to your own executive summary and should concisely state who you are, how you do it and what you do as uniquely as possible.

This element involves using a string of adjectives – such as “client-focused” “creative” and “risk-taking,” so the traits which make the ‘real you’ outshine your rivals are shown.

The third element, according to the Faust brothers, is your ‘transferable assets’ – these are the competencies, behaviours, traits and abilities that are relevant to what you are pitching for.

According to their model, the final element is your ‘short career biography’ - a list of the companies you have worked for, positions held and approximate length of service.

Yesterday, an internet entrepreneur, who hires freelancers, hinted that the model – or methodology – of an elevator pitch is less important than ensuring it has the desired effect on its audience.

She advised: “You should be able to reel off your elevator pitch at any given opportunity and it must be specific with personal facts as well as position your services amongst your rivals.

“Freelancers need to make the most of absolutely every passing opportunity…so this pitch has to be easy to remember and compelling enough to be relayed on to others.”

Jim Callender, a freelance web developer and regular at digital events, says it is vital freelancers are comfortable with their pitch and can answer questions on the back of it.

“Think about... [words] … that will connect your brand and services with people who may be looking for someone just like you,” he added, before stressing the importance of clarity.

"In this current climate, [an elevator pitch] offers a snappy way to show how your business helps people and solves problems.”

Vince Golder, author of The Power of Referral Marketing for Freelancers, also believes a well-considered elevator pitch can cash in on today’s financial crisis.

“Know the ‘pain’ of your audience and announce in your pitch you and your services/products are the solution to their ‘pain.’

"[Also] try to minimise the ‘me’ words such as I, me, my, mine, us, our, and replace these with ‘you’ words, such as you, yours, your own.”

To given an example, he conjured up the statement: “My company is called Ace Marketing and I am its founder and senior specialist in referral and joint venture marketing.”

Stripping out the ‘me’ words, the pitch might say: “You will gain additional leads, sales, customers and profits at minimum cost when you use Ace Marketing.”

Jamie Delo, founder of keyword marketer Project Word, testified that a good elevator pitch should get attention, “impress” and ‘interest the audience in what you can do for them.’

He said a freelancer’s elevator pitch should have three main parts – an ‘introduction’, with a few choice facts about yourself, an ‘experiences’ section and a ‘skills and capabilities’ section.

As the intro is straightforward, the focus should be on the second and third parts; with the second part citing your experiences in the order of ‘STAR’ – Situation/Task, Action, Result.

The final part should cite your key skills, what they enable you to do and lastly, what your future goals are, mindful that these goals must align with the opportunity you are pitching for.

Delo hinted a vibrant and concise elevator pitch can often clinch a deal or job that might have gone wayward if it was only down to the candidate’s CV to make the case.

“Often people do not know that you may have an elevator speech planned,” he said, pointing out that candidates are normally not presumed to be keen or confident orators though all have CVs.

“[Surprising the audience] will impress far more than a CV which they know you will have spent lots of time making sure it is impressive.

“The difference between an elevator speech and a CV is that you can use facial expressions, body language and emphasis in your voice to create that extra interest”.

According to the Faust brothers, the static format of the Curriculum Vitae is too yesteryear to even be compared with the clout and creativity elevator pitches can command.

“Your CV described what you did. Your elevator pitch describes who you are, your behaviours, your characteristics and how you do what you do,” they wrote.

“Your elevator pitch should have a resonance about it. You [and your colleagues and friends] should be able to recognise you. The elevator pitch is a mirror. If your reflection is cloudy, you’ll need to rethink your words and actions.” 


29th October 2008

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