Tips from Hubert Zajicek’s visit: How to develop your science “elevator pitch”

Author: C. R. Morales

Dr. Hubert Zajicek from Health Wildcatters visited us on January 29, 2015 to speak about how to improve our elevator pitches in order to get people excited about us and our work.  Below are some practical take-aways from that talk that we thought might be useful to share.

“Think of it ahead of time: a quick smooth introduction transcends.”


1. The elevator pitch is a conversation starter:

  • The goal is to set up a contact.
  • Do not try to close a deal in 20 seconds.
  • Follow up with an open-ended question to gauge interest.

2. The elevator pitch should answer 3 questions:

  • Who are you?
    1. Clarify this with a title that is commonly used: Scientist/Researcher/Student/Administrator.
  • What do you do?
    1. Explain what your organization or lab does, explain your project, and explain your latest paper going from general to specific details.
    2. Use general terms to connect concepts. For example, instead of ‘receptor XYZ’ use ‘receptor involved in diabetes.’
  • What are you looking for?
    1. Have a clear and definitive statement of your goals.

3. You should keep it to 20-30 seconds:

  • Do not try to fit more information into this time by speaking faster.

4. How to refine your pitch:

  • Write it out or record yourself, practice, and then cut it down.
  • Practice again.
  • Keep it under 30 seconds.
  • Try it with different groups.
  • Have an open-ended question ready.

5. Know your audience, and know what you want to accomplish with this audience.

6. Emphasize the value of your work:

  • Be careful to keep your statements real, and do not oversell your abilities/accomplishments.
  • Use anchors like could/would/should or “I believe” to illustrate the potential of your work.

7. Use LinkedIn. This will likely be the way your audience is going to follow up with you.

8. Get out there! You won’t have the chance to practice your pitch in the lab!

We really appreciate Dr. Zajicek taking the time to give us these practical tips for improving our communication skills and hope that they are helpful to you too.  Please check out Health Wildcatters if you would like to know more about what they do!

Editor: Devon C.


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