Giving Elevator Pitches

Elevator pitches are a critically important part of networking and communication for anyone in academia. It can be difficult to boil down your research career (or even the last few months) into a few sentences, but on this page, we'll give you some tips and guidelines for achieving this task, and some external resources for further support.

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It doesn't get any easier.
(Source: Piled Higher and Deeper #1030 by Jorge Cham)

Overview

Elevator pitches are concise statements about your research interests and experience that you should be prepared to share on a moment's notice at a conference (see: Conferences & Networking), meetings, receptions, or literal elevator rides. You need to create a memorable, positive impression that will open the door to further conversation in the moment or in the future — and you only have a minute or two to do so!

There are a few questions you need to make sure that your elevator pitch addresses.

  • What is the topic of your research?
  • What is the problem or question that you are asking?
  • Why is this problem even important, or interesting?
  • How does your work connect with the broader discipline of your field or even with interdisciplinary research?

One of the most difficult parts of an elevator talk is explaining your work in a way that is understandable to a wide range of educated people. You should avoid the use of jargon or any kind of specialized terms. You should also learn to adapt your delivery based on the perceived understanding or interest of the listener as you explain (see: Giving Presentations). This can be difficult to achieve in such a brief time window, but this is a wholly achievable task.

External Resources

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