Inquiring Relatives Want To Know: Your Holiday Elevator Pitch

How to Prepare Your Holiday Elevator Pitch
by Hannah Moss
Photos Joe Kathrina | December 22, 2016
Wondering how to quickly and easily explain what you do at the next family meal? Follow these steps to create your elevator pitch.
You’ll find me stuck at the kids’ table at every family gathering—and the holidays are no exception. Like me, you may think that this is a safe place. After all, it’s far enough away from the adults who force chitchat and so adamantly refute the concept of personal space that you long to sprint to the punch bowl and plunge your head in, never to resurface. But, just like me, you would be wrong.

Picture this: It’s Christmas 2016 and the annual Moss family Christmas kick off is in full swing. I’m wedged between a prodigious pianist and a skilled painter, both of whom have yet to encounter the travesties of the third grade. Their glasses thick, their sweaters wool, the interrogation began before we even broke bread: “So Hannah, how can you explain your breadth of unemployment?” “Does everyone your age not know what they’re doing, or just you?” And my personal favorite: “Your sweater doesn’t match. Anything.”

My legs shifted uncomfortably under the plastic Little Tikes table, rattling everyone’s plates like a small earthquake, as my tongue became tied and my thoughts clouded over.

If only there were a quick statement interesting enough to dull the pain of small talk, without being so compelling that it sparks an in-depth, intellectual, soul-searching discussion with my second-grade cousin (twice removed)!

Enter the elevator pitch: a brief, rehearsed speech—no more than 20-30 seconds long—that explains what you do clearly and effectively. Elevator pitches are perfect during the holidays, when the obligation to talk to relatives is highest.

Don’t get caught unprepared at the kids table. Here’s how you can craft your own personal pitch for the next holiday season:


What do you want your audience to know about you and what you do?

In my case, I wanted to easily explain what I do for a living. I also wanted my inquisitive cousins to understand not only what I’m currently doing, but where I am headed in my career, as well as my ultimate professional goals.

(Even if I’m not quite sure of these myself.)


Exposition is my best friend and it will be yours, too.

I recommend starting with the big picture: what company do you work for? Next, shift to your role within the company and bullet point a few of the main things that you do.

Between jobs? Outline the steps you’re taking to secure your next position (that will be better than the last). Or, if you’re testing the waters to see what you really want to do next, explain the projects you have taken up in the meantime or options you intend to explore.


Wondering what parts of your career story to leave in and which to leave out? Think about it this way: What parts align with your end goal and excite you the most? Leave those in to create a clear storyline for your audience to follow. 

So, your last project didn’t pan out the way you wanted, but your new involvement in an organization is turning out to be fruitful? Focus on the latter—your excitement will spark interest in your audience and create an enthusiastic exchange that wasn’t there before.


After you have crafted the perfect pitch, practice it until it becomes second nature. Take notice of your body language, too, as you share your speech. Practice until you have the perfect delivery: a balance of natural and enthusiastic. Instead of feeling cornered, you’ll be able to tell the table what you’re up to with confidence and poise. Even if the table consists of a couple of ten-year-olds with cold, judging eyes. 

Don’t let yourself be caught off guard—you can share what you’re up to while remaining natural and conversational under the most heated interrogation if you just prepare. You got this!

What's your holiday elevator pitch? How short and sweet do you keep it? Tell us in the comments!