The concept behind the 20-40 second ‘elevator pitch’ if to tell people in about 35 words or less who you are. The elevator pitch is designed to get a conversation started and should be geared specifically to your audience, with a captivating hook or smart metaphor that draws your listener in.

Pat Drew is a career and executive coach and ex HR professional with The New York Times. She shares her nine tips that make an elevator pitch sizzle. She calls them The Nine C’s:

    1. Concise. Get to the purpose of the message quickly without any extra words. Stay with the formula, and go for brevity. “I help customers stay informed of their business news and sales results.”


    1. Clear. Whatever you write and recite should be understood by your grandparents or those who do not know your business or industry jargon. Use easily understood verbiage: “I am a change agent who blows up silos and creates new ways to do business.”


    1. Compelling. Explain the pain that you take away with the offerings you have. “I free up an executive’s time to do what his does best, steer the ship.”


    1. Credible. Tell your qualifications if they are relevant. “As a CGA and McGill grad in Commerce, I reduce overhead costs and free up resources.”


    1. Conceptual. The pitch must be representative of you. If you say, “I help you find a customized solution to your business challenges,” the concept is that you are a salesperson. That sentence describes what salespeople do.


    1. Concrete. Be very specific about who you are and what benefits you bring to the table. “I represent products that allow you to live your life to the fullest, no matter what your malady is.”


    1. Customized. You may have to change your message depending on

      who your audience is. With industry insiders you can use jargon and inferences that are common to you both, but when speaking to a generalist you will have to tone down the jargon.
      “As a CPP I make sure 800 people receive their paychecks on time every pay period.” Versus “As a certified payroll professional, I ensure 800 people…”


    1. Consistent. Who you are, what pain you take away, and what benefits you provide all have to be real and in-line with each other.


    1. Conversational. The last thing you want to do is to sound rehearsed or phony. Write the script as you speak, make it authentically you. Keep in mind that the point of the elevator pitch is to start a conversation, so you want the pitch to have a memorable hook. “I am a Salsa Queen who loves to travel, meet new people, explore foreboding niches and then write about my adventures.”


Whether you are at a networking function or breaking the ice in an elevator or in line at the grocery store your 30 second infomercial should be polished and ready to deliver on the spot.


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate

Author of Networking How to
Build Relationships That Count
, How to Get a Job and Keep

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind