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Everyone needs an elevator pitch.

When you’re looking for a new job, you can use it to inform employers and recruiters about yourself, or to make a connection at a networking event. When you’re already employed, you can use an elevator pitch to tell influencers or decision-makers about how you can add value to whatever project they’re pursuing.

Your elevator pitch should be informative, and you must be able to deliver it flawlessly, at any time, with little warning. You never know when opportunity might knock.

Craft a standout pitch and deliver it with verve every time using these tips.

Start with a script

The goal is for the listener to walk away knowing exactly who you are and what you can do.

Maria Marsala of business consulting firm Elevating Your Business in Poulsbo, Washington, recommends filling in the blanks in this sentence:

“I help (who) to do (what) by providing (what).”

Change it around a little bit until you find a sentence or two that feels comfortable and is easy to deliver. When you’re comfortable with that, consider adding an example that shows the results of your work.

Avoid using complex language or industry jargon when you write your pitch, says Angela Copeland of Copeland Coaching in Memphis, Tennessee. You want to be able to connect with a wide variety of people and have them understand what you’re talking about.

Customize for the audience

It's critical to use the right pitch for the right situation, says Tampa, Florida-based Eric Liguori, vice president at the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

A pitch delivered in a social setting, for example, should tell the employer why you are special in a compelling manner. “It should not be sales-ish,” Ligiori says. A sales pitch is different; in that case you are pitching the sale of your solution to the listener's problem.”

Give it a rehearsal

Once you’ve gotten the text of your pitch, practice it.

You need to be able to deliver it naturally, without rushing or sounding too pushy. Recite it out loud in front of a mirror so you can perfect your body language as well.

Cut the monologue

Once you’ve gotten your elevator pitch out, then what?

Stop talking, Marsala says.

Wait for the other person to ask a question or if they want to learn more. “That’s the most important part of an elevator pitch,” she says, “to connect with another human being.”

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