Practice makes perfect when ‘elevating’ speech skills

By Ileana

In an increasingly competitive job field it’s important to distinguish yourself from the leagues of other students and job applicants. Whether you’re at a networking event, calling a potential employer for the first time, or attending a job interview, it is critical to be able to sell yourself in 30 seconds or less. This short pitch is often referred to as the “elevator speech.”Jobpostings Magazine spoke with academic and career counselor Paul Merrigan and career educator Signy Wilson to get some advice on how to create one’s best elevator speech.”The actual term comes from a scenario where you step into an elevator, only to come face to face with the person you’ve been looking for an opportunity to see,” says Merrigan, “and you have only the time you’re traveling in the elevator to make a lasting impression. Essentially it’s a 30-second mini-commercial where the product you’re selling is you.”Wilson recommends keeping it short. “You don’t want your speech turning into a Shakespearean monologue,” cautions Wilson. “Talk about one or two of your most impressive skills or accomplishments or talk about what your interest, niche or passion is,” she advises. “The purpose of an elevator speech is to paraphrase who you are and what you have to offer,” says Merrigan. “And the most effective way to do this is to focus on your most relevant attributes for that specific person.” Wilson also reminds that practice makes perfect. “You’ll notice different things [through practicing], like the rhythm might be off, your tongue might trip over certain words, or it just might not feel like it’s yours,” says Wilson. “With my personality it totally makes sense for me to say, ‘Hi. My name is Signy and I’m completely committed to doing training and helping people become the best they can be. What’s your passion?’ But when I have these shy, soft-spoken students saying, ‘I’m passionate about math,’ that passion just doesn’t come across. It’s very important that the style of your speech reflects who you are,” stresses Wilson. If you feel your elevator speech sounds forced, Merrigan suggests practicing in front of a mirror or in front of friends to help make it feel more natural. If you’re worried about the length of your speech, he suggests practicing it while actually riding in an elevator. The key Wilson says, “is to have enough fluency with it to be able to go into the speech whenever an opportunity presents itself.” And remember that even if you’ve practiced, “The situation might not unfold the way you had planned,” Wilson says. “People always assume you’ll say your name, and you’ll get to give your whole speech. But what usually happens after you say your name is the person responds with theirs. This throws a lot of people off. Practice it with friends and have them interrupt you. This will help prepare you for these situations.”When you’re at a networking event and find your palms getting sweaty, Wilson says, “It’s okay to say, ‘I’m a bit nervous but let me tell you a bit about me.’ It will take the pressure to be perfect off.” She also suggests having a question ready to ask once you’ve spoken. “The easiest one being-What do you do? This takes the spotlight off you and onto them,” she says. Presented by – America’s Student Job Site.The Villanovan is a Jobpostings Media Partner.