To be honest, I don’t like the term ‘elevator speech.’ It sounds aggressive and triggers memories of cheesy, fictional salespeople like Joe Isuzu and Herb Tarlek. Can you imagine being trapped in a slow moving, metal box listening to a sales pitch from either of those guys? Ew! Though, if you’re not careful, that’s the experience you’ll give potential clients when you approach them. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.
Your conversation with a new contact should develop into a natural give and take that moves the relationship forward. If you’ve been practicing a one-sided spiel in the mirror, hoping repetition will make you successful, ditch that pitch. It’s time to learn how to write an elevator speech that rocks.
Maybe you’re saying, “I’m not in sales or a business owner; I don’t have to worry about selling myself to anyone.” Well, job interviews are the ultimate forms of self-advertisement. Convincing decision makers you’re the best candidate for a position is selling yourself. Heck, even first dates and social gatherings call for personal promotion. So, you might as well put some time and thought into your elevator speech, whether it’s for professional purposes or otherwise.
By the way, if the idea of speaking to total strangers makes you feel faint, check out this post on Overcoming Shyness.
First Things First
According to a study performed by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, you have a fraction of a second to make a first impression. That means your prospect is making several key assumptions before you open your mouth. Therefore, it’s imperative to give yourself an advantage by:
Smiling – It shows you’re welcoming and approachable
Making eye contact – People will perceive you as more intelligent and engaged
Dressing smartly – This communicates your level of confidence
— Jen Monks (@lifewiselady) January 18, 2017
Know Your Audience
Most people will ask what you do out of obligation. Don’t engage in premature spamification. Nobody likes that! Remember the Golden Rule here. Not everyone is open to hearing about you, your products, and your services. They may not want to know your company’s history or the reason you started your business, especially thirty seconds after meeting you. Guage the situation. Have a different version of your speech tailored to each type of audience and occasion. Networking events and interviews will obviously call for a more lengthy, overt elevator speech while casual meetings and social events require brevity and subtlety.
Pitch Perfect: The Components
The Introduction: You Had Me At ‘Hello’
Some call the beginning of an elevator speech ‘the hook.’ Why? That implies you’re a hunter and the other person is prey. It’s impossible for you to build a long-term, professional relationship based on the principle of winner and loser. It might seem like a minor detail, but your frame of mind is important.
You can opt to introduce yourself with only your name and title (yawn) or consider opening with an attention getter to captivate your audience. It could be a surprising statistic, an anecdote or a mysterious reference to boost interest. The objective is to encourage them to say, “Tell me more.”
For example, If your niche is businesswomen, You can surprise them with the results of a recent study by saying “Research at Stanford University has found that women who include ‘PTA member’ on their resumes are 79% less likely to be hired.” That’s a startling statement that will almost certainly get a response.
Offer A Solution To A Problem: I Built A Better Mousetrap
Now that you’ve piqued their curiosity, you should identify your niche, a problem that group has, and your unique solution(s). Keep it brief, focused, and simple. You might say, “I help women who want to re-enter the workforce identify and quickly start a career they love.” This will naturally encourage your prospects to ask, “How?” Then, you can get into a few details of your product or service. “My three step program does this by…”
Define Your Purpose: Inspire And Light A Fire
At this point, you should state the overall purpose of your company, career or product. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to mention why you do what you do. While what you offer is useful, why you offer it is compelling. Prospects are excited by a cause. “I was inspired to develop my service because I identified the need to…”
You may have heard of Simon Sinek, the author of the best-selling book Start With Why. Many of his popular Ted talks focus on the fierce customer loyalty Apple garners due to its purpose and core beliefs. It’s all about messaging.
Perhaps you’re asking, “If I’m supposed to start with the why, then how come it’s third on your list of elevator speech components?” Good question, smarty pants. It’s a tall order to dive into your purpose before you’ve properly introduced yourself. But, if you can figure out how to do that without seeming abrupt or awkward, go for it.
Call To Action: Keep That Ball Rolling
Well, you’ve managed to keep your contacts’ attention and bowl them over. Good job! Now you have to take this relationship to the next level. You should always offer your business card and encourage prospects to visit your site and email you. Truthfully, though, the odds of this happening are slim. Inquire if you can follow up the next day. Then the ball is in your court. Politely ask for a card or take down contact information. At the very least, get a company name and web address.