Why Everyone Needs to Nail Their Elevator Pitch - Part 1

Having an original, authentic elevator pitch in the workplace is rare. When asked to “share a little about yourself” before starting a meeting, the majority of people will recite a name, job title, and maybe one other random thing.

What’s worse is that everyone else in the meeting is struggling to figure out what they’re going to say, so no one is really listening anyway. It’s a massive missed opportunity for real communication and connection. 

An elevator pitch is your story. It demonstrates what you care about. It shows vulnerability and expresses emotion. It’s an honest description of what you’ve done and what you like without trying to impress anyone. And nailing it can make a difference in your career. 

Consider these two simple elevator pitches: 

“I’m Dave from Menlo Park. I’m an entrepreneur, and I like movies.” 

“Hi, I’m Dave. I’m obsessed with helping teams become highly functional, and I recently completed ‘The Deathride,’ a nine hour bike ride through the Sierras.” 

Which one makes you lean in? The importance of going beyond stale titles and vague hobbies can’t be overemphasized. Here’s why.

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Self-Advocacy at Work

It’s not good enough to just be good at your job. You have to tell the story of how you’re good at your job to get people to support you—women, I’m looking at you. You have to fight for yourself to build your career, and a personal elevator pitch is a great opportunity for personal PR.

In just a few sentences, you can communicate your values, your passions, and your strengths. Sharing these things about yourself helps others understand what you’re good at, what you want to do, and why they should hire you to do it (if they haven’t already). Being able to encapsulate these qualities in a relatable, personal way rather than by reciting some bullets from a resume can mean the difference between a pat on the back and a promotion. Here’s how.

Likability

Tooting your own horn with the same persuasive power we use on behalf of others is hard to do — especially for women. In fact, research shows that self-promoting women tend to be evaluated higher in performance yet lower in likability than those who are not self-promoting. Yet self-promotion doesn’t have to be bragging. When you can relate your strengths with some vulnerability, it opens up an opportunity for self-advocacy that can actually foster likability and therefore deepen connection. Here’s an example.

I have been helping people tell stories for over 20 years. I work with companies to help them land on their brand story, and I also help executives and entrepreneurs develop and deliver presentations and investor pitches. Communication is my superpower. But when it came to telling my own story, I always choked. I felt my background was too disparate and unrelated to share in the context of what I was doing now.

In my twenties and thirties I taught English as a Second Language all around the world. I loved teaching, but I also loved business. I started several businesses, and helped others start more. And since I was a little girl, I have been writing and performing for the stage. But I never shared any of this about myself for the first several years of working with my clients because it didn’t feel relevant. I felt like I had to hide these parts of myself because they they didn’t seem related to what I do now. I didn’t realize they were part of what makes me so good at my job.

But then I learned the concept of the through line

I’ll talk more about through lines in part two of this article here.