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Building Blocks of the Elevator Pitch

Welcome to orientation! Faculty director and Associate Professor, Michelle Shumate, PhD led the first workshop about the Elevator Pitch.

Pre-orientation, we were asked to prepare and memorize a 30 second Elevator Introduction. The content is a short, clear, and impressive snippet of what you would say to a leader in a company you currently work for or want to work for.

Each of us randomly paired up, in a series of lightening rounds, and presented our pitch. In the center of the room on the screen, there was an image of a large digital timer counting down the 30 seconds.

After each round, one classmate delivered his/her pitch and Michelle provided helpful feedback.

Effective pitches have a goal, showcase your personality, and pace slow with a natural flow. A passionate pitch shows authenticity and makes it easier for people to connect with you. Furthermore, specificity adds credibility. “Say it if it’s true,” Michelle declared.

Why slow down? Given the half-minute timeframe, it is natural to want to speed up and cram everything into the pitch. Slow down and you will be perceived as more confident. Rushed? Edit the material or take a breath.

Did you know that non-verbal communication is 70% of a first impression? Eye contact is a big deal. Move your eyes every five to ten seconds and please don’t stare.

Nervous? Take a breath and regroup. Emphasize a significant word by raising the pitch of your voice.

Understandably, the first round was the hardest. There is the nerve factor, the reality of the clock ticking nearby, and the symphonic noise of 33 people giving a pitch at the same time.  As the rounds rolled on, the pitch became easier and morphed into a solid introduction and one I will use going forward.

Lauren Rein
MSC Class of 2017