We’ve all been there: that awkward team meeting or large group presentation when you want to make not only a good impression, but the right one.

How do you typically introduce yourself in those situations?

If your current 30-second commercial educates your listeners about what you do now, but not what you are capable of doing next, you’re missing an important opportunity to re-shape how others perceive you. Done right, an elevator pitch can be the verbal equivalent of “dressing for the job you want.” That is, it can show you in a good light today, as well as reveal what you’re capable of in the future.

For example, let’s say you’re the current go-to person for a few key tasks that you do well, but wish you could move beyond—duties you were excited to perform a few years ago, but that now leave you feeling bored and underutilized.

Don’t let your elevator pitch reinforce that idea of you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to signal your readiness to rise above your present role. A great elevator pitch should educate others about your future potential in a specific and focused way—so that if your ideal role became available, they’d see you as a natural fit.

Now’s the time to change how you’re perceived and become the go-to person for something bigger, better, and more integral to your organization’s success—by changing your elevator pitch with these three simple tips.

1. Own Responsibilities Beyond Your Job Description

Start with your name and job title, then follow with a brief overview of what you’re currently responsible for.

But then, go further. To upgrade your elevator pitch, make sure at least one of these bullet points is something you’re currently doing that goes beyond your job description and describes a responsibility fitting your next job.

For example, a product manager who aspires to manage a team of other product managers might say, “I also mentor my teammates on product management best practices” or “For the last six months, I’ve led product management team reviews.” This shows you've proactively taken on a leadership role within your group—and hope to continue on that path.

2. Become the Go-To Person for the Bigger Picture

After sharing your name, job title, and responsibilities, finish your elevator pitch with a statement that sets you up as the go-to person for higher-level duties.

For instance, a sales rep might say, “I consult with executive level decision makers and help them improve their business models—feel free to come directly to me whenever you need ideas to drive revenue growth.”

Don't articulate the busy work or low-level tasks on your current roster—like, in the sales rep’s case, scheduling customer meetings or simply selling software—or you’ll only attract more of those. Instead, choose areas that showcase your leadership skills and the value you add to the organization.

3. Use Leadership Verbs

Laurie Oare, the central region president at US Foods, recognizes the value of carefully examining the way we communicate with others. “In a subtle way, we convey our confidence and professionalism in every interaction that we have with co-workers, customers, superiors, and subordinates.”

So, spruce up the delivery of your elevator pitch by using language that focuses on strong leadership verbs to send a powerful, forward-focused message.

For instance, in order to shift perception of yourself from doer to leader, catch yourself before you say you “work on” something or that you’re “responsible for” it.

Be actionable instead. Say you lead it, oversee it, or orchestrate it. You’ll convey that you do more than simply fulfill your job description—but that you take pride in your career and aspire to continue along a path of success.

These might seem like small changes, but with time they can make a big impact on how others perceive you and the caliber of opportunities and responsibilities you attract.


Photo of elevator courtesy of Shutterstock.