The Elevator Speech
Six Tips for Telling Your Story in 90 Seconds
“Elevator pitches” are not just supplementary components in a job or internship search. “A student’s ability to tell their story effectively is crucial,” said Vanderbilt University’s Center for Student Professional Development Assistant Director and Coach, Heather Lefkowitz. “To be successful at career fairs, interviews and in networking, they need to be self-aware, confident, compelling communicators.”
Parents can help cultivate these traits in two key ways: by providing opportunities for their students to practice, and by modeling the tips below when they tell their own stories.
1. Remember the “present, past, future” framework. Lefkowitz advised that successful quick pitches are built on the framework of “I am… / I have (experience)… / I’m looking for…”
2. Delivery is crucial. The opportunity to impress your listener and leverage the encounter is lost when you ramble or are uncertain. If you use a technical term, explain it. Practice distilling complexity into simple terms.
3. Get to the point. For example, if you seek a position in business strategy within the management consulting industry, express it clearly. Get to the point.
4. What’s your story all about? “I ask students to tell me about the most significant things that happened in the experiences on their resumes, and in their lives,” Lefkowitz said. “This process may reveal key themes or message points, such as: ‘I think of myself as a problem-solver.'”
5. Stay flexible and make it memorable. Tailor your elevator pitch for different audiences, based on your research and what you can offer prospective employers. Lefkowitz believes the best pitches are memorable to listeners for two reasons: they are authentic, conveying a student’s self-knowledge confidently; and they reveal knowledge learned about your audience.
6. “Success comes with practice.” Lefkowitz concluded. “A lot of students are looking for a script, but a better approach is to know yourself and feel confident enough to convey that authenticity.”
Practice elevator pitches with coaches at the Center, family, fellow students and friends, and in extracurricular leadership positions. The Center’s networkingwebpage can provide additional information about crafting an elevator pitch.