As the employment picture continues to show signs of improvement many hopeful job seekers are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. Some will use social media to promote themselves, while others will troll online job sites. Then there are those who will stick with the traditional method and mail resumes with cover letters. My advice is to try anything to see what works. However, there is one technique that too few people use to their advantage and that is the 30 second pitch or what is also frequently referred to as the elevator speech. The value and effectiveness of a good 30 second pitch should not be underestimated.

A 30 second commercial spot during the 2016 Super Bowl reportedly cost around $4.5 million. That is a sizable amount yet advertisers were willing to shell out that kind of money because they viewed it as an opportunity to deliver their message to the widest possible audience. Not that they expected that people were going to rush out to buy their product, but because they wanted the commercials to be memorable. They wanted people talking about their commercials with the expectation that when it comes time to make a buying decision their particular brand will be the one that comes to mind. Anyone who is looking for a job or an entrepreneur searching for investors or even a coach trying to attract paying clients should adopt a similar philosophy. They should want their 30 second pitch to be memorable. That said a 30 second pitch must accomplish the three i’s.

It should:
§ Introduce: Just telling the person you happen to meet at a networking event your name and your occupation is not enough. Your vocal delivery, facial expression and body language are just as important. In “Social Intelligence” noted psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote that even though a person may not be speaking they are constantly sending signals about how they feel. Therefore if you’re feeling nervous or stressed that may likely be apparent to the other person. That’s why it’s important that you project a feeling of confidence and a sense of self-assurance not only with your words but also in your appearance and demeanor. The most effective way to accomplish that is to practice your pitch continuously beforehand until it becomes as natural to repeat as your name and address. Remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

§ Inform: Avoid the tendency of reciting your resume as that will probably be a turn-off for the other person. Instead tell them about a specific talent you have or about one of your more notable accomplishments, as that is more likely to hold their attention. As an example instead of saying you work in information technology you might say I have a talent for developing highly specialized software programs or I designed an innovative system that is now widely used in the healthcare industry. The point is that you want to highlight a unique quality that makes you stand out. There will always be an opportunity later to go into your background more in depth. This just isn’t the time to do that.

§ Inspire Curiosity: This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the 30 second pitch. Coming up with a delivery that will get the other person to say “tell me more” or to ask a question is really the objective here. When they do they have given you permission to go deeper into your story. However, here again you must resist the temptation to dive into your resume. Instead keep the discussion conversational. You want this to be a two way dialogue. As Judith Glaser states in her book “Conversational Intelligence” the key to success in life is to become a master of conversation. Remember that the goal is to have that person walk away from your exchange with your name firmly imprinted in his or her memory. Not because you expect to receive a job offer, since the odds of that happening while not as unlikely as winning the lottery aren’t great in any event. It’s because you want that person to think of you first when they become aware of an opportunity that calls for someone with your particular skills and experience.

Developing an effective 30 second pitch doesn’t require a great deal of creative talent; however, it does require a good deal of thought to come up with a clear and concise message that captures the essence of what you wish to convey in a brief soundbite. Once you have defined and refined your pitch you must practice, practice and practice some more until the words just roll off of your tongue. You may not have to pay a lot of money to an advertiser to deliver your 30 second pitch but the results of a good one can be very rewarding.

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