Ending the Year on a High Note: Teaching the Elevator Pitch

One of the most valuable lessons we can teach our students is to concisely voice their qualifications for a position, often referred to as an elevator pitch. And what better time to provide this instruction than just before we release our charges from spring courses?

After learning about this important element of the job search, students will be able to confidently present their suitability as a potential hire. Below, we break this lesson into three parts.

1.  Class discussion and video (~15-20 minutes)

A. Define the elevator pitch: A brief (60 seconds or less) persuasive speech that describes who you are and what you can offer an organization.

B. Show videos of elevator pitches. These winners from the University of Northern Colorado’s Monfort College of Business are a good option, but your college’s career center may have its own. Ask students about their reactions to the pitches.

C. Open up a discussion, covering the points below.

      • An elevator pitch, like all business communication, is audience centered.
      • It can be used at networking events and job fairs or as well as during an interview for a specific position.
      • Its purpose is to explain an individual’s skills as they pertain to a particular field or organization.
      • Elevator pitches are written and rehearsed until they flow naturally.
      • They can be broken down into basic sections:
        • Name and academic background (year, school, major/minor)
        • What you want to do/accomplish (obtain entry-level position, internship, etc.)
        • Skills/characteristics that paint a picture of your suitability (hard worker, creative team player, critical thinker, etc.)
        • How you bring value to a company (how your skillset or a unique quality would make you a valuable asset)
        • Request for suggestions, advice, or a meeting

Here’s an example to share with your students that uses the above elements:

Hi, I’m Julio Fuentes, and I’m graduating from the University of California in Santa Barbara with a BS in Environmental Studies and a minor in business communication. I’m looking to be part of the solution to the effects of climate change by working for an organization committed to decarbonization. Recently I had an internship where I used my upbeat attitude, knowledge of environmental science, and ability to both lead and follow in a team setting to create decarbonization scenarios for a local manufacturer. I’m confident we can save the planet if we focus on the kinds of solutions I’ve studied as an undergraduate, and I’m looking for an entry level position in environmental compliance. Do you have any suggestions or advice on how I can break into this field?

2.  Assign an in-class activity followed by a small group discussion (~30-40 minutes)

Ask students to complete the Creating an Elevator Pitch handout found in this month’s BizComBuzz Classroom Exercise. Then break the class into groups of 4-5 and have students read their pitches to one another. You may wish to give the groups specific questions to answer (Does the pitch effectively describe your classmate? Did it provide valuable characteristics that would appeal to a hirer? and the like.)

2.  Bring the class back together for a recap (~5 minutes)

Review the learning objectives of the lesson. You may ask students to perfect their pitches for a grade by presenting them to the class as an oral presentation at a later date or by submitting them to you as a video.

Not only will students find this activity valuable—it’s a great way to tie up a semester’s worth of learning about business communication. Have fun!


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