Last Wednesday Kerwin Associates hosted 100 guests for an in-depth panel discussion focused on perfecting your professional elevator pitch. The event was a continuation of Kerwin Associates’ breakfast series bringing industry leaders together to explore topics aimed at helping women better navigate their careers.
The “Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch” breakfast highlighted a panel of six well-established female leaders chosen for their extensive experience listening to candidates sell themselves and their passion for sharing their knowledge with others. Moderated by Phuong Phillips, Zynga’s Chief Legal Officer, the panel was made up of the following individuals (pictured left to right):
Jill Dessalines, Founder, Strategic Advice for Successful Lawyers
Jude Komuves, Chief People Officer at Collective Health
Anne Kerwin Payne, Founder, Kerwin Associates
Laila Tarraf, Leadership Coach
Susan Stick, General Counsel at Evernote
Phuong Phillips, Zynga’s Chief Legal Officer
Why this topic?
Susan and Anne had spent time working together on a search and began discussing their favorite assessment questions for candidates. As an interviewer, Susan chose to ask candidates to “tell her about themselves” or to “give her their elevator pitch.” After hearing countless answers from both male and female candidates, Susan was surprised to find that more often than not, women’s answers were subpar to their male counterparts. While men were crafted and succinct in their answers, women fumbled, rambled and fell flat in telling their stories. Why? After continued discussions, Anne and Susan agreed it was an area where women could up level themselves and agreed to provide continuing education on the topic.
Here are a few key pointers to perfect your elevator pitch:
Always be your authentic self.
This sentiment was echoed multiple times throughout the discussion. Wherever you are, whomever you’re selling to, and for whatever role – always be your authentic self. The best elevator pitches not only showcased a candidate’s direct skillset for the role, but they also showed their personality.
Showcase who you are, what you do and how you can add value.
We live in a world where there are many qualified candidates for a given role. Your elevator pitch should show your passion, tell your story and help the interviewer understand what value you can bring to their company.
Strength + Passion = Purpose
One of our panelist brought up this equation when asked how to prepare your elevator pitch and we loved it. Your elevator pitch should showcase your strengths, exude your passion and prove your purpose. When you think about identifying your strengths, Jill challenged us to think, “Why do clients love you?” Want to add passion to your pitch? Think, “How do your passions align with that this interviewer is looking for?” “What am I truly passionate about in this line of work?”
Keep your pitches bite size.
You should be able to break down your elevator pitch into small bite size pieces. Sentences that are too lengthy and too detailed are hard to remember. If you’re interrupted or lose your train of thought, it will be hard to recover. Your elevator pitch should be a grouping of smaller thoughts that can guide you as well as easily be remembered and delivered.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Find someone to pitch to that might make you a bit uncomfortable – for example, a random coworker or a mentor versus your significant other. Practice your pitch. Let them listen, time you, keep track of fillers and give you feedback. While this may be uncomfortable, the more you practice, the easier your pitch will be to deliver in a pressure situation.
Need inspiration to create your own?
If you don’t have an elevator pitch or haven’t thought about it a long time, now is your time to get moving! Use the quick tips and tricks above and try pulling one together. Use your strengths, your passion and your confidence to sell yourself!
Anne’s Pitch Example:
I am a legal search consultant tasked with building teams and solving complex hiring problems. I bridge relationships between passive talent and my clients. I do this by utilizing knowledge of the legal candidate marketplace, an understanding of the current business landscape, and utilizing my innate intuition of what it takes to find the perfect fit. I love and am passionate about being able to help our clients meet their hiring goals while at the same time helping individual candidates elevate their careers!