Be ready to seize the moment: take your influencing skills to a new level

Whether you are a head of service, a GP, a clinician, a commissioner or another NHS leader, a career in the NHS is busy and challenging, often fraught by lack of funding, staff shortages and other difficulties.

To achieve the very best for patients, we need to network and be noticed by key decision makers so we can accomplish our goals and objectives. How do we do that when key  leaders are very busy too? The answer is that you might only have two minutes to shine. It might happen as you walk down the corridor or stand in a lift.

With just two minutes to make a shiny impression, the last thing you need is for your potential moment of glory to turn into a stressful situation: the palms of your hands start to sweat with an embarrassing handshake or you start stammering.

The key is to see him or her as ordinary person who was once in your position and to learn how to impress them with a well-crafted elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is an old term used for an impressive statement which can be used in a tight position, say when you happen to be standing beside a very-important-person in the elevator between meetings. The term is also a pun because if you get it right, you may be elevated in your career!

The basic elements of a perfect elevator pitch are: Who are you? What do you do? What’s the value proposition? And grab their attention! However, remember that NHS leaders see hundreds of people just like you every day, so you need to make your pitch stand out.

Below are five tips to make the most of your moment. You can also use these tips to help you create well-crafted contributions at important meetings or when you are networking.

Research and be ready. Use LinkedIn to find out what you have in common and any common challenges you may share. Doing your homework will increase your confidence and help you to have a meaningful conversation.

Speak their lingo: What objectives is your key decision maker under pressure to achieve? What words will they be familiar with? Speaking their language will help you gain rapport. How can you provide a solution to their challenges? This is the art of successful marketing and you will be marketing yourself. These words will form part of your elevator pitch. If you are after money for your department, work out how it will also benefit your VIP.

Provide value first. A huge number of NHS leaders and decision makers are used to people wanting to pick their brains, at the same they may resent suggestions. You must get the balance right. Learn what is of value to him or her and connect your pitch to that.

How compelling is your pitch? You should now have the elements for your perfect pitch. Do you believe it? What is the objective of your pitch? Share your pitch with trusted friends for their feedback. Is there a story you can include within your pitch to make it more compelling and from the heart?

Rehearse. Edit. Rehearse. Once you have your script ready. Rehearse it. You may find when you read it out that it needs editing. Rehearse it frequently, remembering not to speak too quickly and where to breathe.

Below is an example of an elevator pitch:

Hello, I’m Tom (or Alix, Sarah etc). I’m working on something which is going to save the hospital a lot of money. By doing x, y,z we are going to get better collaboration between staff at all levels and give patients a much better service. I’d love to come and tell you a bit more about this when you have time/ ask your advice about some aspects of this project. 

Contact Tom Leach Coaching for further information about making an impression with key decision makers and elevating your career within the NHS.