Practice Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch
Practice: for athletes, musicians, and actors, it’s a must. (Basketball fans will remember Allen Iverson didn’t care much for it, and that got him into trouble.) As a musician, it’s something I do occasionally, and certainly used to do more of. Unfortunately, the thin walls of a city apartment can’t match the soundproof rooms in a cozy college basement. It’s often said that “practice makes perfect,” but even when I practiced for hours a day, I never really bought into that. Perfection, to me, always seemed as practical as world peace: a lofty goal, but not achievable in reality.
Recently, while revisiting the idea of the elevator pitch—something definitely worth practicing—I thought again about the point of practice: If it doesn’t lead to perfection, what’s it good for?
To me, practice means preparedness. Years back, all the practicing I did helped me to adapt to changing conditions. If a musical director took a long pause and I just kept going, or took a faster tempo while I plodded behind, I could have ruined the whole show. Trying things again and again, with slight variations each time, might get me closer to perfection, to really nailing each measure of music, but the real focus of my practice was on learning my strengths and tendencies.
The same goes for practicing your elevator pitch. What you accomplish by practicing it isn’t just memorization; it’s not an uninterrupted 30-second speech you rattle off to everyone you meet. Instead, practice creates the baseline for any kind of interaction that might take place. With a strong elevator pitch, you’ll be armed with the most relevant and revealing facts about yourself. You’ll be a professional ready to deal with situations as they arise, not a robot blurting out a string of facts.