Stand out from the crowd: Preparing a professional pitch

It only takes 30 seconds and a little practice to deliver a clear and concise professional pitch.

Have you ever found yourself in an elevator with a person with which you wanted to connect?  Perhaps it was your boss, future boss or community leader.  Although the elevator ride may be a brief 30 seconds, when the time is used effectively, a person can concisely convey a lot about themselves that may lead to a better first impression.  The phrase “elevator speech” was coined for just this type of occasion.  Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development refers to this networking skill as a Professional Pitch.  

All 4-H members can practice developing a professional pitch in a variety of different contexts.  Local 4-H ambassadors, club officers,or royalty that represent or promote the local 4-H program might want to have a speech prepared to answer the question, “What is 4-H?” or “Why are you involved in 4-H?” 

Members participating in state and national events such as 4-H Capitol Experience or Citizenship Washington Focus may have the opportunity to interact with Michigan or U.S. Senators and Representatives who may ask the question, “Why should I support 4-H?” or “Why is 4-H important to you?”

Youth also benefit by developing a professional pitch for themselves in order to summarize their career goals, educational background, and skills or interests in order to answer the very common interview and networking question, “Tell me about yourself.”

Each of these scenerios demonstrates a specific event in which having a speech prepared might ease the pressure of saying the right thing in a brief timeframe.  The answers to any of these questions have the potential to be lengthy and complex, so it benefits youth to think about and prepare concise responses to those questions in advance. 

Regardless of the specific need for a professional pitch or elevator speech, youth can follow the same steps for success. First, youth should brainstorm their key points and form those points into a paragraph in writing.  Next, youth should practice their elevator speeches with each other.  The more opportunities a youth has to repeat their pitch, the more naturally they will be able to share it with others in a real life situation. Practice makes perfect. 

MSU Extension can provide trainings on this and other skills in order to prepare youth for the future.

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