Is an Elevator Pitch a Verbal Resume?

When you’re preparing your Elevator Pitch, just imagine your listener has a remote control and can switch you off if they’re not interested. It sounds harsh, but it works.

When I started as a network news reporter I remember my mom telling me; “Don’t be nervous, just imagine me watching TV at home and you’re just talking to me!”. That advice really did not work. Clearly my mom is my biggest fan! I could bore her to death, or totally screw up and she’d still think I was amazing.

So it wasn’t mom or anyone else specific I would imagine before going on air. What helped me get on top of my nerves the most was imagining a faceless, bodiless hand on a TV remote control, the finger hovering dangerously close to the OFF button.

I knew that if I didn’t engage that faceless viewer, a viewer who represented millions of others out there, that they could vote me off by simply switching me off. Or worse, by switching channels to the rival news programme. Because let’s face it, not every news story is accompanied by great video or a gripping story line. Some are dry and technical or sometimes I’d have to sum up a 2 month court case in just 2 minutes. It meant editing, editing, editing, choosing the most impactful opening and closing lines and trying to tell a story in-between.

So as perverse as it sounds, that fear of viewers hitting the remote control actually dissipated my nerves by allowing me to focus on how to stop them doing that.So too when it comes to your Elevator Pitch; Speak in a way that makes your listener prick their ears up. If you’ve heard others use similar phrases to you or you’ve copied a well used phrase, go back to the drawing board and think of a more creative way to say the same thing.

Dazzling your listener by sounding fresh and enthusiastic will go a long way at making you memorable, especially for career returnees who may have gaps in their experience. Whether career returnee or in employment looking for your next role, never, ever think of your Elevator Pitch as a verbal version of your Resumé. It could not be more different. Take that resume, rip it up for the purposes of this exercise, and just speak from the heart; of your professional achievements, your professional goals and tie them together with your story. That is what will be memorable and what will make you memorable.

And practice it. Practice, practice, practice. I can not emphasise that enough. I myself have fallen foul of the hubris that is thinking I don’t need to practice my elevator pitch.Every time you use it, it’s in a different context, with a different audience and a different vibe. So each time you think you’re going to use it say it and say it again, even on your way to the venue - get used to hearing your voice say it. Don’t expect it always to sound the same either; I defy you to trot out the same pitch twice and they be exactly the same. And that’s fine because you are trying to communicate in a natural way, not sound like an automaton.

So PRACTICE! But not on your mom, because she’s your biggest fan and she would never switch you off. 

Luisa Baldini is the Co-Founder of Composure Media, providing media and communications training to both corporate and individuals. With over 20 years in broadcast media, Luisa, a former TV news correspondent at the BBC covered everything from the Amanda Knox trials in Italy to Royal births. After a relocation to New York, Luisa made her own career shift and decided to use her core communication skills to help others find the confidence to present with composure and communicate effectively. Luisa is now back in the UK, is and is a Communications Coach with the Vermilion Coaching Network.