Anyone who has spent more than two days in St. Louis knows that the first question you are always asked is “Where did you go to high school?” The second question is almost invariably “So, what do you do?” Having an elevator speech prepared in advance can answer this question and give people the best information about you and your career goals.
What’s an elevator speech? An elevator speech is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, business or professional, along with what value it brings to the listener. It’s called an elevator speech because you should be able to provide all the relevant information that you want people to hear in the time it takes to ride an elevator (between 30 seconds and 2 minutes). Think of it as your mission or vision statement brought to life.
How can an elevator speech help me? If you are looking to advance in your current organization or to land a new position, an elevator speech is a great way to market yourself to those who make promotional and hiring decisions. Have a short summary prepared that speaks to your years of experience, skills, education and what you can bring to the table.
If you attend any conferences, seminars or other networking events, an elevator speech is a great way to break the ice. A well-rehearsed statement enables you to appear confident and helps you to stay in the minds of your listeners long after the event is over.
What are some tips for creating an effective elevator speech?
1. Don’t use acronyms or terms that aren’t familiar to a wide audience. Doing so might cause your audience to stop listening to you and focus on what the acronym might mean. You run the risk of losing the last portion of your message.
2. If your profession is wide in scope, narrow it down by choosing three to five terms that others are familiar with and that they identify with value.
3. Speak in terms of what you bring to others – accomplishments, reduction in fees, saving money, reducing risk, etc.
4. Elevator speeches are fluid – they can be changed based on your audience’s perceived needs. Stick to one standard, but be able to change some of the details you provide based on what you feel your listener may be interested in. Be able to speak to current issues in your field and how you have implemented actions that addressed them. These items are likely to be at the top of your listener’s mind.
What is an example of a good elevator speech?
Poor: “I make widgets.”
Better: “I have seven years of experience in all facets of widget building, along with a degree in business management. I’m currently looking for a new position where I can help the organization streamline their production processes to increase profitability.”
There are some good resources on the web for more information and examples. You may want to check out Harvard Business School’s online “Elevator Pitch Builder” at http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/.
An elevator speech is one more way to help you put your best foot forward. I wish you every success.
Vicki Amsinger is the owner of Vela HR Consulting, Inc., which provides cost-effective, integrated solutions to assist businesses in effectively managing their HR responsibilities, risks and issues. She can be reached at Vicki@velahrconsulting.com. Her website is http://velahrconsulting.com.