Another in Our Continuing Series--Consulting After 50: Your Audience is Waiting!

Find a tall building and ride the elevator to the top. Time yourself. That’s how long you have to explain why someone should hire you—in simple and catchy language. The elevator pitch is a popular networking and marketing tool but it’s more than that. Creating this mini-speech will help you clarify your skills inventory. When you want to explain what you do, the words will just flow.

There’s a lot of information out there on how to make your pitch but not much on what to say. It is even more challenging for evaluators and applied researchers because we tend to talk in jargon but the pitch has to be in simple layman’s terms. It’s harder than it looks.

Here’s a template to create your basic pitch. Complete the following table using your skills assessment for key topics.


1.      Identify your top skills and talents

I am known for my: My skills & talents include:
1.         Technical expertise My strongest skills...
2.         Knowledge of a specific sector My knowledge of...
3.         Unique product My ability to produce...
4.         Cross-industry experience My work in other fields...
5.         Multidisciplinary approach My work with other professionals...
6.         Objectivity & insight My unbiased perspective, creativity...
7.         Problem solving ability My love of solving problems...
8.         Speed & reliability My ability to work quickly and well...
9.         Ability to complete difficult tasks My love of challenges...
10.     Good project management My organization skills...
11.     Excellent client relationships My communication skills & ability to diffuse difficult situations...
12.     Good reputation What clients & bosses say about me....
2.      Use this formula to write your elevator pitch

Using the numbering system above, pick the most powerful items and slot them into the appropriate numbered blank. Each stem becomes a sentence in your pitch.

Stem Sentence
a)         I am known for my __(1)__ and my knowledge about __(2)__.  
b)        I produce __(3)__ or I have __(4)__ or __(5)__.  
c)         My special skills include __(6)__, __(7)__, __(8)__ or __(9)__.  
d)        My clients like my __(10)__ or __(11)__ and often say that I am __(12)__.  

3.      Edit and refine your pitch

Now you can re-write the full paragraph. Your challenge is to say it in 25 words or less. Remember that the elevator moves very quickly and when a fellow traveller asks you what you do, you won’t have much time! This is a process of writing and re-writing until you get something that makes sense to you. Then try it out on a few trusted friends and supporters who can give you feedback without destroying your confidence. Refine as needed.

4.      Practice, practice, practice

Now you need to practice it until you sound confident and natural. More revisions may be necessary if certain words or phrases cause you to stumble. When your elevator pitch finally trips off your tongue, you are ready for the big league. The next time someone asks you, “So, what are you going to do when you retire/leave/re-surface?” you know what to say!

Next up, let’s talk about social media.


Barrington, G. V. (2017). Introduction to Consulting Webinar, Day 1. American Evaluation Association.

Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up and Management: A Guide for Evaluators and Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.


Photo: Getty Images

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