An elevator speech, or self-introduction, is a 30- to 60-second statement that conveys your unique skills and what you have to offer to a company or organization. It is a way to share your knowledge and credentials quickly and effectively with people who don’t know you.
You should be able to convey:
- Who you are
- What you do or have done
- What you are seeking, including key information that is relevant to your experience or goals
Examples of good elevator speeches
“I recently graduated from college with a degree in communications. I worked on the college newspaper as a reporter and, eventually, editor of the arts section. I'm looking for a job that will put my skills as a journalist to work.”
“I’m passionate about the environment and am interested in building on my experience in environmental sustainability with an internship in an environmentally friendly organization. My University of Cincinnati education taught me to think critically and make connections across disciplines. I use those skills in my student organization as we work to educate the campus community to the importance of living green. I want to make a difference by helping people understand how their actions affect our planet, which is why I am interested in working for your organization.”
Elevator Speech Do's
Your speech should only be 30 to 60 seconds long – about the time it takes to ride an elevator, hence the name. Don’t try to include your entire work history and career goals; just pick out one or two things.
Even though it is brief, your self-introduction should spark interest.
Share your skills
Your self-introduction should explain who you are and what qualifications and skills you have. Try to focus on assets that are valuable in many situations.
Practice, practice, practice
The best way to get comfortable with an elevator speech is to practice it until it comes naturally. Try saying your speech to a friend or record it. This will help you know if you are staying within the time limit and giving a coherent message.
You are not interviewing for a specific position, so you want to sound open-minded and flexible.
Mention a goal
You do not need to get too specific. A too-narrow goal doesn't help, since you'll use your pitch in many situations with different types of people. However, do remember to say what you are looking for. For instance, "a role in marketing" or "an opportunity to apply my sales skills to a new market" or "to relocate to Seattle with a job in this industry."
Have a business card or resume ready
If you have a business card, offer it at the end of the conversation as a way to continue the dialogue. If you are at a job fair or professional networking event, a copy of resume will also show your preparedness.
Elevator Speech Don'ts
Talk too fast
You only have a short time, but rushing through it makes it hard for the listener to absorb your message.
This is why it is important to practice. While you don’t want to sound over-rehearsed, you also don’t want unclear sentences or to go off-track.
Have only one version
You are probably interested in more than one thing - for example, public relations and psychology. Many of your skills can apply to both fields, so tailor your self-introduction to the person you’re talking to. You can also practice a more casual, personal self-introduction for social settings.
Want a second opinion?
Come to walk-in hours to work on your elevator speech or self-introduction with a career coach.