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Top 5 tips for crafting your elevator pitch

5. Start with a question. Does your listener know who you are or what organization you represent? What kind of knowledge do they have about the work done in your sector, or the programming you create? Opening your elevator pitch by letting someone else talk seems counterintuitive, but also secures that person's interest in seeing where the dialog will go.

4. Find something unique, weird, honest, or personal to share that will connect with your listener's experiences. If you know the person you're talking with, connect your org to their experiences (ie, I know you serve on the board at Org X, so I wanted to tell you how our board shapes our mission; has your experience been different?) or your own (ie, when I left the military I needed help accessing basic services, so I know what our clients are going through when they come to my organization now for housing assistance).

3. Have a few practiced anecdotes in your back pocket. If you really only have fifteen seconds of someone's attention, then stick to your macro argument; but if they're willing to give you more time, have an example or two prepared of how your program makes a difference, feedback you've received from the community, or a successful event you helped run.

2. Deliver the pitch to yourself in a mirror. Yes, it really works. Watch your facial expressions, your body language, and how your vocal tone comes across. You don't have to criticize yourself, you just need to understand how your pitch will come across to your listener.

1. End with a question. Invite feedback, reaction, and more dialog. A good pitch invites the conversation to continue, and gets your listener invested in the outcome of the conversation.

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