The art of an elevator pitch and how to introduce yourself.
A good friend of mine is a talented psychotherapist with a successful practice. When she’s at social events and people ask her what she does for a living, there’s always a hesitation. Why? Because she’s learned that if she says, “I’m a therapist,” people tend to shut down and run the other direction! So one day I told her, “You just need to re-brand yourself.” Now when she’s at social events, she says:
“I help individuals communicate more effectively so they can increase productivity in their lives and feel a sense of connection and confidence. I’ve been doing this successfully for 12 years, but I love that people can still surprise me. Let me ask you a question: if you had to guess, in what area do you think people communicate least effectively? ….”
See what we did there? First, we boiled down “therapy” to something simpler: communicating more effectively. Then, we appealed to human emotions and qualities that everyone wants: connection and confidence. Lastly, we asked an open-ended question that invites more opportunity to be fascinated by the inner workings of her job. And we did it all without ever making them run the other direction. This is the skill of learning how to introduce yourself so people will remember.
What is an elevator pitch?
The example above is what is known as an elevator pitch – a brief, persuasive speech used to spark an interest that lasts no longer than an elevator ride of 20-30 seconds (hence the name). Generally, people think an elevator pitch applies only to salespeople pushing a product, but it is also a highly valuable tool if you’re wondering how to introduce yourself and make valuable connections.
See, similar to a therapist, the title “insurance agent” can make people shut down pretty quickly. That title is fraught with preconceived notions and, quite possibly, bad prior experiences. But this can be easily be solved with some creative rebranding about what you do. Think about it. As an independent insurance agent, you are not really selling a policy. You are selling yourself as an invaluable asset to advise clients in their insurance decisions. So how do you turn “I’m an insurance agent” into something more exciting that will engage prospects? Let’s break it down so you can learn how to introduce yourself in a captivating and positive way.
An Elevator Pitch Should Be Memorable
When introducing yourself to prospective clients, you want to make an impression that lasts. The best way to be memorable is to focus on the emotional aspect of how you help people. This can usually be achieved by looking at your job function within the problem-solution framework. Consider what you’ve learned working with your clients.
- What do you perceive are their biggest pain points?
- What problems don’t they want?
- Which results are they not getting?
- How do they feel about it?
- What is the direct solution you provide to that problem?
Your elevator pitch should define their problem (and perhaps why it’s a problem) and then describe your solution in a way that appeals to them emotionally.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
An Elevator Pitch Should Be Succinct
No one wants to talk to a rambler who goes on and on about themselves. If you need more than 30 seconds to effectively describe what you do as an insurance agent, then you’re just not doing it right. The need for many words is usually the result of not having distilled your job description into something simple and clear.
Put the work in now and really drill down to the basics of what you do. Just like a therapist really helps people communicate more effectively, what is it that you really do? Surely you don’t just sell insurance. Can you describe it in one sentence? Five words? One word? This exercise is a powerful tool in learning how to introduce yourself.
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
―Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales
An Elevator Pitch Should Be Engaging
Remember that an elevator pitch is never used to close a sale. It’s used to open up more time and attention from the prospect. You aren’t aiming for a monologue, but rather a conversation starter that turns your interaction into a valuable dialogue. There is no one magic trick to being engaging, but here are a few ideas you can play with and see how they work.
- Note your business goals
- Point to qualifications
- Ask a question
- List a relevant statistic
- Highlight unique qualities about yourself
“Attention is a precious commodity.”
Examples of an Elevator Pitch for How to Introduce Yourself
Example 1: Start with a Question
Do you know how many people [problem many of your clients have]? Well, what I do is [briefly explain the solution you provide and make sure to emphasize the value of your services]. I’m a(n) [preferred title] with [experience/qualifications], and I specialize in [field of insurance].
“Do you know how many people end up with thousands of dollars in bills from unexpected illness? Well, what I do is perform free comprehensive insurance reviews to help people see where there are gaps in their health coverage. I’m an independent insurance agent with 10 rewarding years of experience in helping Medicare beneficiaries save money.”
Example 2: Redefine Traditional Expectations
Officially, my job is to [insert traditional title/description of your job]. But what that really means is I [insert your emotional job description].
“Officially my job is to find the best Medicare plans for my clients. But what that really means is I get to take help care of people by making sure they aren’t stressed about their finances.”
Example 3: Focus on the Outcome
I’m [name] and I provide/help/serve [target audience] with
“I’m John Smith and I serve Medicare beneficiaries by lending my expertise for free. My knowledge of the senior healthcare market helps them avoid lapses in medical coverage or unnecessarily high premiums. Essentially, I help them live their life free of worry.”
Example 4: The Story
Recently [introduce person and context]. Every day [establish the way things were]. But one day [introduce a relatable problem] and because of that [describe challenges that arose]. When I was able to [insert what you did], I [insert solution and how things are now]. As a(n) [preferred title], I am able to do this for people every day.
This one’s all you. I’m sure you have some rewarding stories of clients you’ve helped. Pick one that highlights a problem that’s relatable to who you are talking to and try it out as a method for how to introduce yourself.
Regardless of how you decide to format your introduction elevator pitch, be sure to rehearse it so you know how to deliver it naturally, confidently, and in about 30 seconds. And don’t forget to smile and let your passion show. It takes some practice, but soon you’ll be making connections like a pro, so have those business cards ready!