Everything you need to prepare an elevator pitch during COVID-19

Photo: Travis Wise

When getting ready for a career fair or networking event, writing an elevator pitch is an essential part of the prep work.

With these events now largely occurring online, knowing how to prepare a virtual elevator pitch is a skill that you need to succeed in today’s professional job market. 

Preparing to attend an online career event isn’t actually all that different from getting ready for an in-person event. You’ll still dress professionally, but you’ll need to ensure a quiet workspace and prepare your background before the event.

You’ll still need a perfected resume to hand out, but your copies will be digital. Just a few small tweaks can tailor your preparation for the online world. The same applies when preparing a virtual elevator pitch.

At its core, an elevator pitch is essentially a short and sweet spiel about yourself, your experience, and your qualifications, summed up in the time it would take to complete an elevator ride from the bottom of a building to the top. This generally shakes out to roughly a 30-second window for you to provide a potential employer or a recruiter with the most pertinent info about your abilities.

In short, it’s all about selling yourself in the most succinct way possible while still making an impact. An elevator pitch should be memorable, and it should also provide just enough information to convince someone that they want to learn more about you. 

What to include in a virtual elevator pitch

Because a virtual elevator pitch is an introduction that will serve as the starting point for a potential relationship with a recruiter or hiring manager, it is crucial to plan ahead. 

Here’s a breakdown that explains in five steps how to write an effective virtual elevator pitch:

  1. State who you are. Example: “I’m an executive marketing consultant…”
  2. Add what you do. Example: “…who works to create and execute branded strategy for Fortune 500 companies.”
  3. Explain why you’re valuable. Example: “My ability to identify ways for executives to market to their target consumers generates buzz and increases sales.”
  4. Provide an interesting fact or concrete example to back it up. Example: “In fact, over the past year, I’ve spearheaded innovative campaigns that have collectively produced over $1 million dollars in new revenue for my clients.”
  5. Mention professional aspirations & build rapport Example: “Currently, I’m looking to connect with companies who could benefit from my expertise.”

The full pitch outlined above, in its entirety, reads like this:

I’m an executive marketing consultant who works to create and execute branded strategy for Fortune 500 companies. My ability to identify ways for executives to market to their target consumers generates buzz and increases sales. In fact, over the past year, I’ve spearheaded innovative campaigns that have collectively produced over $1 million dollars in new revenue for my clients. Currently, I’m looking to connect with companies who could benefit from my expertise.”

Tips to ensure virtual elevator pitch success

Keeping the following few tips in mind will help you prepare a virtual elevator pitch that can serve as a springboard to catapult you into career success during online networking events and career fairs.

Be succinct

You only have about 30 seconds, remember? Choose your words carefully, making sure that each one truly adds value to your virtual elevator pitch

It’s also a good idea to avoid repeating similar statements. For example, saying that you’re punctual and always on time mean the same exact thing. Pick the way to get your point across that uses fewer words to help keep your pitch succinct.

Tone inflection, and body language matter

Upbeat and enthusiastic are two adjectives that describe potential candidates who are poised and ready to tackle a new opportunity. Although you want to avoid going overboard by shouting or sounding forceful, having command over your word choice and displaying passion for what you do through a positive tone can give you a leg up on the competition. A smile on your face paired with a pleasant expression can also go a long way to show your enthusiasm as well. 

Practice out loud

Virtual events allow recruiters the ability to sift through multiple candidates at record speed. With short windows for introduction, polishing your elevator pitch until it shines is key, which means practicing delivering your pitch out loud is a must. 

To make sure you’re on top of your game when it’s time to deliver your pitch virtually, you could even schedule a video call with a friend to get a feel for how things will sound when you attend a virtual event.

Test your tech

Because you’ll be delivering the pitch over a video chat platform most often during these virtual networking events, it’s imperative to test out your tech ahead of the call. Make sure your sound and video quality are at their best by adjusting your lighting, setting volume controls, and also quitting any apps or windows running in the background. 

Time your delivery

When you first hop on a call for a virtual networking event, the compulsory “Hello” and “How are you?” will set the tone for the rest of the conversation. Instead of diving head first into your carefully crafted virtual elevator pitch, it’s crucial to read the room, so to speak.

Use a polite greeting and thank the host for taking the time to meet with you. Allow them to respond accordingly, make any introductory statements, and ask any leading questions they have (Like, “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?“) before letting your virtual elevator pitch fly.

Highlight your best attributes

You are probably good at many things, but an elevator pitch — even a virtual one — is not the place to list them all. It’s important to leave a few details to be learned later on during a formal interview or a continued conversation, so make sure that your pitch solely hones in on your best features. 

Your goal is to keep the conversation going once your pitch ends, so make sure to include attributes that a recruiter might want to hear more about to pique their interest.