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When Your Elevator Pitch Has A Pitch Problem

Is it safe to assume that everyone in America has watched American Idol?  Based on the vote tally each week during the season, I think it is a fair bet.  And if you’ve seen the show, you’ve seen the caricatures that do the judging.  The caricatures include hip/cool, sure/sensible, loving/kind and rude/contrarian. They play their roles pretty well, actually.  As if they were reading off a script . . . hmmm.

One of the key things we are supposed to be listening for during American Idol is something called “pitch”.  According to one caricature (Randy), singers on idol can be a little “pitchy”.  Well, I never really looked for a specific definition for the word.  So tonight as I began to think about your elevator pitch, I figured this was a pretty good time to get the definition right.

So, if you want info on pitch, where do you go?  Well, here at Tim’s Strategy, we went to the folks at Sing Like A Pro.  Why?  Wouldn’t you?

The link above tells you everything you’d probably want to know about pitch.  But, a short summary from the site can be found below:

“Going off pitch when singing is also called going “off key”, and it means that you sing a slightly different note then you intended to. Usually, you end up hitting a note that’s a little bit higher or lower then what you were aiming for.

This is called going sharp (a little too high) or flat, which is a little too low. Everyone goes off key sometimes, but some people have a hard time controlling their pitch. Of course, there are ways to correct pitch problems.”

We all do our own judging when out at networking events, don’t we?  I know I do.  I love to listen to the variety of voices and accents.  I also love to hear what people actually say and wonder whether that was what they planned to say.  Are they off key or just new at sharing their careers with others?

So, in this post I’d like to to help you with your pitch problems.  If you have them, that is.  I’ll tell you my top 10 keys to an effective elevator pitch.  So, without further delay . . .

Top 10 Keys To An Effective Elevator Pitch

  1. Speak up! If everyone in the room or around the table can’t hear you, you’ve already lost.  Use your outside voice when inside or outside.  It helps you command the group’s attention and makes a statement that what you are saying is worth hearing.  And, you know what, if I can’t hear your first few words, I’ll stop trying too hard.
  2. Look at your audience! Yes, every one of them if you can.  If the group has a leader and you address all of your comments to them, well, you lost me again.  Oh, and everyone else in the room who was previously open to learning about you is also off in wonder land.
  3. Like to talk?  Engage your filter! If the rules say 30 or 60 seconds, please don’t take twice that time. It is unfair to the others especially as networking groups get larger and require more time for this part of the meeting.  Even more important?  You lose people after a minute and you may not even have reached your best information yet.
  4. Stand up and move around! Please don’t sit.  Don’t stand next to your seat.  And once up in the front of the room, try to move around a bit.  Your physical movement, like the strength of your voice, helps to send a message that you are sharing something interesting. What does it mean to move around “a bit”?  Two or three steps each way is fine.  If you find yourself across the room after 10 seconds, rein yourself in.
  5. Pauses, small breaths and other ways to create emphasis. I’ve heard a few people give an elevator pitch that sounded more like a speed reading.  Remember, this should be conversational.  So, pause after an important point or a big accomplishment.  Place emphasis on certain other points you want people to remember.  Be in control of what people hear and what ends up on the floor.
  6. Smile and be approachable! Being in transition does not warrant a eulogy.  Your elevator pitch is not a time to be solemn, over-confident or otherwise serious.  You can be confident about your skills and experience but make sure your delivery creates interest and followers.  Ever heard the “how great I am” elevator pitch?  Ever want to go up and introduce yourself to that person after?  Me neither.
  7. Offer to help others! An elevator pitch that is solely focused on your transition needs will not garner the genuine attention and interest of others.  Nope.  Everyone has something to offer.  So make sure you include something selfless in your words.
  8. Include your specific job objectives! What are you looking for in your search?  If you don’t provide specific and tangible objectives to your network, they will likely forget about you.  Or at least forget why they thought they should remember you.  How do you do this?  Build the objectives into your one sheet or networking card.  Also, make sure to throw out the names of a few target companies.  Oh, and share your Watchlyst with the group.  That way they can keep track of you and others much easier!
  9. Be Interesting! Find a way to make your career accomplishments relevant and interesting to everyone. Avoid using industry specific jargon that only you and a few others will understand. Use brief and specific examples of what makes you different from everyone else who sat in those chairs.  I am sitting here waiting for you to say something that will allow me to remember you. What are you passionate about?  Really!
  10. Recognize others! If you heard something interesting from another networker who spoke before you, re-emphasize it. That says to the group that you were listening earlier and have more than just your own success in mind.  You may also create an opportunity for further networking with that person as the open networking portion begins.  This is networking with a purpose.

Of course this discussion has been almost entirely focused on the most common format for the modern elevator speech.

You.  Standing in front of 10-50 people.  No elevator.  And a timer (if the group is lucky).
Really this is more of an introduction, isn’t it?
You are introducing yourself to the network that may be able to help you find your next job.
So here’s a format for your introduction that may help.  It’s called BigPitch because it’s just you.

In front of a big room or a big group of people . . .

Download BigPitch

Nice to meet you.  I hope.

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Networking

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