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What is an Elevator Pitch?

  • A quick way to sell yourself when making introductions
  • Sets the stage for why someone would be interested in learning more about you
  • Can be used in a variety of settings:
    • Professional Conference
    • Career Fairs
    • Graduate School Visits
    • Informational Interview Requests   Ÿ
    • Informal Social Events

The goal is for the elevator speech to lead into further conversation. This could happen on the spot if there is time or in the future with a business card exchange and follow up email or phone call.

Crafting your Elevator Pitch

Who you are plus a credential

“Hi, I’m Melanie Smith, and I’m a Sophomore Communications Studies student at the University of Iowa.”

A specific objective

“I have a specific interest in …”

How you have demonstrated your interest

“This summer I am seeking an internship with a firm in the marketing sector.”

Follow-up statement or question

“I attended your presentation today and really enjoyed listening to your thoughts on…”

“I see that you work at Brainstorm Marketing. Can you tell me more about your position?”

5 Things To Do To Make Your Elevator Speech Successful

Practice, practice, practice.

Very few people are skilled enough to make a compelling 15-second speech about their professional lives under pressure. Practice your speech 100 times — literally. Know it, get comfortable with it, be able to change it for a different audience. Practice your body language with it: how will you give the speech differently sitting down vs. while walking down a hall? How will it be different over the phone vs. in person?


Focus on impact.

60 Minutes aired a segment set at a job fair. One of the interviewees, a laid-off Wall Street executive assistant, looked straight into the camera and said, with total conviction, "I can make any boss shine." The commentator wanted to hire her on the spot. Who doesn't want to shine? Describing the impact you've made is much more compelling than talking about your number of years of experience.

Share your successes.

A lot of us have been taught — by parents, teachers, or team-oriented environments — not to toot our own horns, and to use "we" instead of "I". Elevator speeches are all about "I". You've got to get comfortable with bragging about your own individual contributions and successes (in a graceful way).


Be slow and steady.

Whether out of nervousness or a desire to cram in a lot of information, people giving elevator speeches tend to talk at breakneck pace — which is extremely off-putting to potential employers. Speak at a pace that shows you are calm and confident. You want them to think of you as thoughtful and deliberate.


See the whole world as an elevator.

Too many people looking for jobs save their elevator speeches for job fairs and interviews. Remember the first rule of sales: ABC (Always Be Closing). Give your elevator speech to everyone — at family gatherings, in a waiting room, at student organization networking events. You never know where the next job is coming from.


  • Be warm, enthusiastic, and genuine
  • Watch your audience & maintain good eye contact
  • Show passion and energy
  • Speak in a friendly voice 


  • Be verbose – shorten it up
  • Overdo detail but provide the most compelling ones
  • Use acronyms and jargon
  • Forget your audience is generally a busy person with a lot on their mind