You need to be able tell someone what you do, and why it matters, in just a couple of sentences.
We tend to call this an elevator pitch, taken from the idea that you might be in a lift with someone, and you’ve only got the short time it takes to move between a few floors to show them what you can do.
You also need to have more than one of these pitches prepped. Imagine it’s your boss, a peer, someone in a different part of the org or even the CEO. Depending on who you are talking to, you want to be able to show your value in a way they will understand.
First off, get the long list written down. Think about the impact that you’ve had, projects you’ve led or products you’ve launched. List out these wins, cover the business value, why they are interesting to a specialist and what the 50,000 foot view looks like.
Next up, loop round, tighten them up (remember, only 2 sentences!). Take the best couple and practice saying them out loud. You want to loop through enough times that it feels natural to you, that you have the cadence down and that you aren’t rushing-to-fit-in-more-than-two-sentences-in-a-few-seconds.
If you want to go full on “Elevator Pitch”, then you finish off with some sort of hook. You might just want to raise awareness so that you are remembered in future interactions, or you might have some sort of request that you need to make.
In the pitch, you don’t have time for this, so don’t use those seconds to ask for extra people or some more resources. Instead, give the person something that they can come to you with.
Imagine that your value statement is: “We’ve just launched product X to country Y, and it’s driving a Z% uplift in annual revenue.”
That’s super good for your out of org colleagues, and probably works well for the CEO too, as it’s very commercially focused.
Now, if the thing you want is some support to go faster and launch to another country, then assuming that you got a positive reaction, you can follow-up the statement with “Let me book in a meeting to discuss how we can accelerate the rollout”. if you get an enthusiastic yes (or even a “Speak to my PA”), then you are much closer to reaching your goal than if you either went direct, or made the request without the pitch first.
So build your pitches, practice them. Refresh them to keep them current and tailor them to your audience. Raise awareness or leave a hook for future conversations.
A thousand times better than an awkward silence and a chat about the weather!