Going up? Perfecting the Elevator Speech

By Matthew Werner, Global MBA student 2012-2013, USA

Throughout the first term the Global MBA program students enjoyed numerous career workshops focusing on the importance of communicating our strengths, previous experiences and the positions we hope to obtain upon graduation as professionally and succinctly as possible. Essentially, we learned how to sell ourselves to networking contacts and potential employers through short elevator pitches. For those not familiar with the concept, an elevator pitch is based on the idea that an elevator ride is normally very short and one would only have a minute or two to share his or her ideas with somebody else riding in the same elevator. These pitches are quite common for entrepreneurs who are often required to sell their ideas to potential investors in very limited amounts of time.

We first started crafting our elevator pitches individually and then partnered up with a random classmate to pitch our previous experiences and future plans in front of the class. Our classmates then provided constructive feedback on how to perfect our speeches. The next step was to practice in front of a professional videographer. Speaking in front of groups of people is normally not a problem for me and is something that I enjoy, but speaking in front of the camera was a new experience and took some getting used to. For some reason this inanimate object that cannot give any feedback added tons of pressure! Luckily all students received our first videos to review and had a week to perfect our on camera style personalities and our pitches. The next week we filmed the final version that we will be able to share with professional contacts, post on personal websites, our LinkedIn pages or use in other promotional materials.

After all the practice that went into filming the final speeches I felt like I could recite my elevator pitch to anybody at anytime. That is, until I actually had an occasion to use my elevator pitch and completely blew it! Shortly after the filming session I ran into the Global MBA career development manager who was having lunch with a key account manager with  ESSEC’s corporate relations department. This would have been the perfect occasion to use my elevator pitch and explain my professional experiences and aspirations, but when introducing myself I totally drew a blank and just said my name and nothing else. What a missed opportunity!

So for me it was clear that I had to go back to rehearsing my elevator pitch and getting comfortable with the speech in an impromptu environment. I was very pleased when I recently used the speech effectively during several networking opportunities. Networking and making industry contacts are very important parts of the job search and one must be skilled in this area. Thankfully the Global MBA team knows this and has been preparing the students to confront the world of networking with polished elevator pitches that convey confidence and clear objectives for the future.

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