How To Write An Elevator Speech That Rocks

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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

 

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.

 

A Few Final Thoughts: The Loose Ends

In the end, it comes down to writing out your pitch and practicing until you can confidently communicate it to anyone at any time.  Remember to move and speak naturally.  Start by talking to the mirror if you must, but then move on to friends and family who will give you honest feedback on your performance.  In no time at all, you’ll be impressing audiences with the perfect pitch.

Now you know how to write an elevator speech that rocks.  I’d love to know how it works out or if you have any tips for the rest of us.  Please feel free to share your advice or thoughts below in the comments section.

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46 COMMENTS

    • Hi, Alana. There are not many people who are comfortable with self-promotion. I suggest keeping it short and sweet until you feel a little better about your presentation. If that doesn’t work, contact an organization like Toastmasters to help.

    • Welcome, Rena. I am grateful for your kind words. I hope these tips make it a bit easier for you. Practice is the key here. It gets easier over time.

    • Hello, Dr. Rutherford. Wow, I’m so happy for you. That sounds fantastic! I’m certain it wasn’tluck though. You must have worked your tail off to get an agent.

  1. These are great tips! I admit I don’t really have a full-on elevator speech, but it would be good to write one and practice it! I’m pinning this now so others an hopefully see it and benefit from it! 🙂

    • Hi, Stefani. Thanks so much for reading and sharing my post. I appreciate that more than you know. As for your elevator speech, keep it short and natural sounding and you’ll be fine. Practice, practice, practice!

    • I agree with you, Leanne. Writing a pitch is difficult. I have been practicing mine and I’m not satisfied yet! I bet yours will be great in no time, though. Thanks for sharing my post on Pinterest!

  2. Great tips Jen! First, let me just agree with you about the term “elevator pitch” and since my background is in sales and marketing I’ve known more than a few of that type. Moving on, the interesting thing is many people can benefit from developing a brief introduction even beyond those you’ve suggested.

    For example, I used to mentor first-time authors because they are often stunned to learn writing their book is actually the easy part when it comes to getting it into the hands of readers. Authors too need a pitch because they have to get across their story and why an agent, publisher, reviewer or reader should care. It’s time well spent! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Thank for all the valuable information, Marquita. I will keep this in mind when I write a book. I am still trying to perfect my brief introduction. It’s not easy.

  3. Thank you for giving me an insight into elevating myself when speaking. Although I do not directly work in sales, I do network for my blog and have to present myself well for my leadership roles at work and church. The principles can be transferred.

    I totally agree that first impressions count. People treat us according to how we present ourselves.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Hello, Phoenicia. I’m so happy you liked the post. I hope it helps you when speaking at work or at your church. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi, Jen. I only heard about the elevator speech when taking Darren Rowse’s 31 Days Blogging challenge. I get the concept and the value of knowing what you do, but I’ve never had a conversation where I can spit it out as written.

    I guess practicing until it is second nature would help. ^_^ I’m shy (or self-conscious about making a mistake) so I will be reading your Overcoming Shyness post.

    I pinned this to my sidehustle Gig board on Pinterest. ^_^

    Have a lovely day,

    Sara @ SaraDuggan.me

    • Hi, Sara. Thanks so much for your input. I’m not satisfied with my pitch either, but I just try to practice it a couple times per week. Don’t be too critical of yourself. You’re not supposed to spit it out as it’s written. It’s supposed to sound natural. Keep working at it and you’ll notice improvement. Let me know if my Overcoming Shyness post helps. I hope it does. I am so grateful you shared my post on Pinterest. Have a splendid week!

  5. Great tips, Jen. I think that one of the most important tips you’ve touched on is that not everyone will be interested in what you do. I always try to tune into the engagement when I meet someone new, and if they don’t show an interest in the world of chocolate, I change the subject!

    • Greetings, Doreen. It’s hard to accept that the whole world isn’t interested in our business. But, that’s the truth of it. You just have to be aware of the other person’s body language and comments. Changing the subject when necessary is a great tactic. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  6. Ha, great read. I went to TBEX blogging event last year and didn’t sign up to speak with any companies because the 3-minute round-about necessitated an elevator speech that there was no way I could do…over and over…without having the time to evaluate each session individually…great help. I’m passing this along to my partner who will be interviewing for jobs in May for move out of state in June.

    • Hey, Dawn. I hope the next blogging event you attend is less stressful for you. Hopefully, you can write a short, simple pitch you can practice and get comfortable with. Let me know when you use it and what happened afterward. I’d love to know. Thanks for sharing my post with your partner. I appreciate that more than you know!

  7. I like the section on •The Introduction: You Had Me At ‘Hello’
    You would not know how many times, I might be interested in a product, but turned off by a salesman.
    I appreciate they might get paid on commission, but that does not give them the right to be so aggressive in trying to make me get their product. Also, they might learn the difference between confidence, and arrogance. This turns me off right from the get go.

    • Well, hello there, William. I think the key take away from that section is to not treat people like prey or like a sale, but a human being. If you can develop a true conversation, you will have made a connection that will eventually benefit both parties. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  8. Lovely post!
    Must say, I do not like Elevator Pitch as well why cannot we go with a simple Introduction as an Icebreaker?
    But, must say you have shared lovely tips to help many to work on their elevator pitch shared it ahead to spread the word. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Hey there, Sushmita. I actually think it’s quite alright to go with a simple introduction. The reason you should have an elevator speech is so you don’t get tripped up or nervous when someone asks you what you do. Thanks for sharing my post. I am always grateful for that.

  9. Excellent suggestions for when you know you will have to make an elevator speech and to what audience. Personally have found that it’s essential to have one ready for whenever you need to improvise to whatever audience in any country in the world. You then just adapt your elevator speech to suit their culture and the audience or individuall. Even now when I’m back at university I have one if someone wants to know about me and what I have done. How I deliver it depends on who’s asking.

    • Hi, Catarina. That is wonderful advice. You sound like you’ve been doing this for a while. I find that, with practice, it’s a little easier to adapt the pitch to the audience. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  10. Oh my this hit home. I am retired and living in a world that does not include people that share my past experiences. I write a blog that I hope will help make people understand how it feels to be an aging woman. I do it because I think it is important and worthwhile. No money, no awards, just good conversation and thoughts.

    And I do get the question all the time…What do you do or what did you do? I need an elevator talk. Thank you.

    • Hi, Barbara. Just remember that your pitch doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It just has to pique the interest of the person or people you are talking to. Good luck with it and thanks for your comments. The more we share, the more we learn.

  11. Glad I read this. If I am seriously pursuing the career of “blogger”, I need to create an elevatory pitch. I have most of the other elements so this is not a stretch to do. Just an oversight.
    Even though I was in sales, I was never comfy doing these in “mock” scenarios. You really have to think about what you want to say in a way that is genuine to who you are. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work.
    Thanks for the nudge 🙂

    • I completely agree, Marian. You need to be genuine and sincere when you first meet people. Otherwise, you just sound like a walking advertisement. Just getting used to telling others what you do in a natural, engaging way is tough, though.

    • Hey, Jennifer. I’m so glad you found these tips useful. If you practice and relax, your intro will sound natural and interesting. Good luck with it and thanks for commenting. I am grateful for the feedback.

    • Hello, Michelle. Ha! I don’t think you’ll have to read it 100 times, but make sure you craft an elevator speech and practice it until you are comfortable. Thank you for your feedback and good luck on this. Stop by again soon, please!

    • Hi, Haralee. An elevator speech is so necessary, yet so difficult for most people to craft. Just make it simple and practice, practice, practice. I wish you much success with this. Thank you for your input.

    • Hi there, Ken. I know how difficult it is to promote your business when you’re shy. Try to step out of your comfort zone a little every week. It does get easier with practice and tenacity. Good luck with your elevator speech. Remember to keep it simple until you are comfortable. Then add some details. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you do it again soon.

  12. Great tips, I enjoy meeting new people and attending networking events and as a member of several Chamber of Commerce, I have many opportunities to work on my “elevator pitch” Also, as a speaker/presenter, it’s important to catch the attention quickly.

    • Hey, Antoinette. An elevator pitch is easy for some, difficult for others, but necessary for all entrepreneurs. Even the best networkers need to practice and make improvements every once in a while. I have to remind myself to ‘rehearse’ a little every month or so or I forget the important things I am supposed to communicate to others. I have seen your videos. You seem to have a relaxed, knowledgeable style that works. Good for you!

  13. Thanks for this. One of the requirements for the advanced degree program that I completed this spring was to do a brief elevator pitch and boy, was that hard! I realized, though, that I could keep the listener’s attention by (1) keeping it short, (2) start off with the fact that I just completed this program, blah blah blah, and you don’t expect that from a middle-aged person! and (3) ask about the listener. “And you?” It usually turns out that they are interesting.

    • Wow, Linda. That sounds like a great program. Asking about the other person in a conversation is just smart and courteous. Sometimes, when we are nervous, we forget the other person entirely and focus on how we look or sound. Putting the emphasis back on the two-way communication will ease your nerves and make for a wonderful dialogue. Thanks for your input. It is dynamite!

    • Hello, Jennifer. I believe every business owner or blogger should have at least a short 1-2 sentence speech prepared when someone asks what they do for a living. It is easier to prepare a longer version for a formal sales pitch than have a casual, off the cuff version at the ready. However, we should all prepare both types of situations. Different occasions call for different strategies, right? Thanks for your input.

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