What Is An Elevator Speech?
If you're in business, looking for a job, of even if you socialize a lot, having an "elevator speech" is an essential resource to have in your professional or personal tool box.
For those who are not familiar with the concept, let's start with an elevator speech definition:
An elevator speech (or 30 second intro) is a short, persuasive description of a person, organization or group, or an idea for a product, service, or project.
It is a sound bite that details your professional or personal story, which should be prepared well in advance before you need it. This sound bite is a short well-crafted statement that should be concise but detailed enough to inform a potential business prospect, employer or anyone else you come into contact with about yourself, your business, your products or services, or your organization, preferably in the amount of time it takes to ride in an elevator.
An elevator speech, therefore, should be short, to the point and grab your listener's attention by saying a lot in very few words, yet leave your audience wanting to know more.
A good elevator speech can be as short as 3 to 4 short sentences, about 50-100 words and take less than 30 seconds to deliver, or, as we will see a little later in this article, it can even be longer than 30 seconds. One minute and 2 minute elevator speeches can also be used in appropriate situations.
According to Wikipedia, an elevator speech is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. A good elevator speech is short but packed with information that is memorable, original, and personal.
In business, the elevator speech is a powerful sales tool for just about everyone. It will create great relationships and bring in more sales. Those who know how to use it effectively, would most likely agree that it is as essential nowadays as using a business card.
In your personal and social life, a prepared intro speech can be useful as a way of getting a job interview, or providing a quick introduction to any topic you want to pursue further with others in conversation.
Ultimately, the elevator speech is your 7 - 30 second response to the question, "so what do you do?" and the answer should be effective enough to introduce yourself and get your point across to a complete stranger in the time it would take for you to share a ride in a lift.
The Purpose Of An Elevator Speech
One of the great benefits of an elevator speech is that it helps you think attentively, creatively and intently about yourself, your job history or business, and your goals. It helps you to organize the information inside your head and crystallize your communication with others.
I first came across the concept of "elevator speeches" and the necessity of having them readily available many years ago, when I joined a network marketing company with no previous experience in business, sales or presenting.
The dilemma that most newcomers to network marketing experience when trying to grow their business, is whether to lead conversations with people they meet with the product or the business opportunity. In other words, if someone asks you what you do and you talk to them about your products (e.g. "I market a terrific nutritional supplement, blah blah blah..."), then you are steering the conversation towards a retail sale. If you lead with the business opportunity, however, (e.g. "I train motivated people on ways to build a profitable home based business, etc...") then you are qualifying people for your business as a potential new recruit.
Having a couple of elevator speeches ready and knowing when to apply each type, therefore, was a valuable lesson I gained during my network marketing years.
Although I am no longer involved in the direct selling industry, the elevator speech is just as vital today in my professional and business life, as it was when I was trying to build a distributor organization many years ago.
Today, elevator speeches are more often used at networking events than in actual elevators, but the purpose is the same. Having a scripted mini-speech when searching for a job lead enables you to provide succinct information to the network of people around you so they know exactly what you are looking for and can help you find it. These short-to-the-point intros are also appropriate to use when following up on referrals or leads.
Let's take a look a little more deeply, then, at the purpose of creating and using an elevator speech.
A really good elevator speech should help you create opportunities to pursue new business, new job offers, or new social contacts.
The purpose of your elevator speech should be to help you start a conversation with one or more people and get their permission to continue it. A good elevator speech will immediately grab your listener's attention by saying a lot in very few words and then leave your audience wanting to know more.
Instead of disengaging your prospect's attention, a properly delivered elevator speech should create a positive response and lead to a positive result. It should get people interested enough to continue talking about you, your product or your business, or make them want to call you again to understand more of what you're all about.
How To Write An Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech should not be your organization's mission statement, or your resume. Also, one of the most common mistakes made when trying to come up with an effective intro is to focus on what you do, or what you are.
Your elevator speech should be conversational, probably last 30 seconds or less and focus on one or more "emotional benefits" for the prospect.
In other words, there's got to be something in it for your prospect. Don't make it about you, make it about "them" and how you can help "them" to solve a problem or improve their lives.
The elevator speech example below is the one I use at business networking events for growing my internet marketing consulting services business:
"I help businesses get more leads and sales from their web sites."
It may not be a "killer" as such, but it works incredibly well. I know that most small business owners have websites that are not delivering them the results they want (more traffic, more leads and more sales), and I can help them, so I have targeted my 30 second intro (more like 5 seconds, actually) specifically for their need.
Your best elevator speech should be a "viral creature" that can burn itself into your listener's brain so that they will not only remember it, but also repeat it enthusiastically to others.
Can such a thing be created?
Of course! But it will probably take time, and a great deal of trial and error.
The best way to create your 30 second intro, is to begin by thinking deeply about the answer to questions such as:
- Who is my audience?
- What do they need or want that I alone can provide?
- Where and when will I use the speech?
- What are all the different situations I might face in the course of my professional or personal life where it would helpful to have a compelling mini-speech already prepared?
- What is the best response I want to elicit from others after I give my elevator speech? (For example, do you want to get a conversation going, a business card, an email address, a referral or an appointment for another meeting or presentation)?
Once you have thought deeply on the above questions, create your first elevator speech draft and then write it out. If required, create different versions for different business scenarios.
You may want to record a video or audio of yourself delivering your elevator speech. Watching the video afterwards will help you finetune your content and delivery, as well as help you develop a clear, concise and compelling message.
If you feel anxious about using an elevator speech, practice. Rehearse your 30 second speech with your partner, a friend, or in front of a mirror. Make it such an integral part of you that if someone woke you up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night and asked you "what do you do?", you would be able to respond instantly, smoothly, naturally and without any hesitation.
Finally, don't worry if your "elevator speech" isn't smooth, easy, or natural in the beginning. Just keep rehearsing it and presenting it, and monitor the response you get afterwards.
If you are really having problems coming up with an elevator speech, consider joining a business networking group, or search online for sites that offer speech writing tips and tutorials
If you can afford it, you may even want to consider hiring a marketing professional or sales copywriter to help you or staff come up with an effective elevator speech.
How Long Should Your Elevator Speech Be
Ideally, you should develop a 30 second elevator speech following the guidelines and suggestions presented here. Keep in mind that a full 30 second intro may actually be too long in certain situations. The more concise you can make it, therefore, the better.
If, like me, you are a "systems-driven" person, then here is a really useful tip: Think about every business interaction with your prospect leading up to your sales presentation (and beyond) as a chain of scripted presentations. Your elevator speech is a scripted mini-presentation and your sales process is really nothing more than scripted speeches of longer duration.
So, if you were to map out your business sales process as a chain of scripted conversations, you would probably find that your 30 seconds elevator speech naturally leads to another speech, i.e. a 60 second elevator speech (or a 2 minute elevator speech) as the person expresses an interest or curiosity in response to your 30 second speech, which then leads to a longer speech called a "needs analysis" presentation, then more conversations called a "solutions" presentation, "decision confirmation" presentation, "training" or "product delivery" presentation, etc...
When you learn to tie up all of these "speeches" or scripted conversations together, you will have a powerful business system that you can test, measure and improve upon for continuously better results.
To conclude this article, here some great tips on ways you can use your elevator speech for growing your business and getting more leads and referrals:
- Don't be afraid to leave it as a voice message when making cold calls or speaking to potential employers (e.g., when leaving a voice-mail message for a hiring manager).
- Use it in your blog or web site in the "About Us" section.
- Use it in your email signature and on the back of your business card.
- Use it any time you are networking for business... even socially when attending functions.
- Use it when following up on referrals.
For more great ideas on ways to grow your business, I recommend listening to business audio books. Check out some of the excellent business audio book titles here: Best Business Audiobooks
I hope you have found this information useful and practical and I wish you great success.