By Bryan Leja
What is it about elevators that make them so awkward? I think it’s a combination of people uninterested in talking, people pretending to be distracted (I know you’re not really texting anybody) and the uncomfortable shortness of the elevator ride. There is nothing easy about an elevator ride, and for the most part, communication is nonexistent.
Now imagine a possible employer walks into that elevator; this is your one and only shot to make a lasting first impression, you have to say something! If only there was a way to make this ride less awkward, yet also find a way to tell him/her a little bit about myself…
You are in luck!
Commonly known as an “elevator pitch,” this 30 second effective communication tool is one that everybody should have in their back pocket ready to use at all times. You never know when, where or how you are going to meet someone, and this tool may just land you your dream job or internship.
Here are some tips on how to prepare an effective elevator pitch:
- Break the silence. Introduce yourself. Shake the person’s hand and tell them a little bit about you (name, major, school, place of work).
- Research. Do your homework on the company, employees, affiliates and current events. An employer will be more impressed with your basic knowledge and understanding of the company.
- Stand out. Like my mom used to tell me, everyone is unique in his or her own way. Tell them why you would be most qualified to work for their company. This could include anything from past internship experiences to your love for extracurricular activities. Make them remember you.
- Get to the point. You do not want to share your entire life story, so the more concise you are the better. If you find yourself talking for too long, you may lose the employer’s attention and interest. Keep it simple!
- Practice. The best way to do this is rehearsing it out loud. Some people like to practice saying it to others while many find it comfortable practicing in front of a mirror.
- Deliver. Have poise and don’t be nervous. Remember this is about you, be proud of everything you have done in life and the employer will notice your self-confidence. Always remember to be professional and maintain eye contact throughout the pitch.
- Follow-Up. When it is time to part ways, it is a great idea to leave them with your business card in hopes that they will leave the same with you. Once you nail the elevator pitch, they will need a way of contacting you right?!
Now an elevator pitch is not limited to just elevators, this speech can be used as an effective communication instrument in all aspects of networking. After the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia, I could basically recite it without even having to think. After the 500th time, my pitch became natural. Without this, I don’t think I would have met as many people as I did and I definitely would not have received as many business cards and follow up emails as I did.
As a communication student, it is crucial to remember the basics of communicating effectively. This can be overlooked a lot, but knowing how to talk to professionals can take you a long way, especially in this field. So next time you experience that awkward silence in an elevator, be ready. Your future boss may be waiting on the other side of those closed doors.