An "elevator speech" is a 30-second overview of your interests, skills, and goals. The term comes from the average time it takes to complete an elevator ride. The "elevator speech" is a prepared presentation that grabs attention and says a lot in a few words; namely, who you are, your most salient interests and skills, and where you hope to go in the future. Having a memorized elevator speech will allow you to clearly articulate your goals, and take advantage of spontaneous networking opportunities. Here are 6 tips for crafting your elevator speech:
1) KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Elevator speeches can be created and used for many different purposes (i.e., to acquire information, promote yourself for a job, to promote your business or an organization that you represent, etc.) so know exactly what your purpose is and craft your speech accordingly.
2) DON’T TRY TO CRAM TOO MUCH INTO YOUR INITIAL ELEVATOR SPEECH
People often try to provide the most detail possible in the 30 or 60 or 90 seconds that they have. But it is best to include only the most interesting and relevant information. Keep your message short and concise, and be confident in what you say. A good elevator speech will grab your listener's attention by saying a lot in few words and leave your audience wanting to know more.
3) ADD SOME PASSION
People get excited by other’s passions. Talk about yourself and things you do that you truly enjoy or are passionate about. Possibly reference some accomplishment or result that you are really proud of. But be honest; don’t try to make yourself smarter or more accomplished than you are. Your speech will come across as more genuine and interesting if you truly believe and are proud of what you are saying about yourself!
4) END YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH WITH A QUESTION OR A REQUEST
Conclude your elevator speech by asking for something, and then pause and assess the reaction of the person you are interacting with.
Things you can do include:
- ask the other person what they do professionally (ask them for their elevator speech)
- ask if you can give them a call next week to discuss this further?
- ask for their business card (especially if their reaction to your speech is positive)
- if appropriate, ask if they know of anyone they might refer you to?
5) DON’T TRY TO DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON
This is a very common error. Your elevator speech is an introduction, an opportunity to further develop a relationship. If you press for too much too soon, people will be ‘turned off’ and walk away. Build a shared bond, a sense of interest…. and then a sense of trust. Good things will follow, especially if the relationship is one offering mutual benefit! Your elevator speech is just the first step in a process.
6) PRACTICE – PRACTICE – PRACTICE
Practice delivering your speech ahead of time but try to make your oral delivery as natural and free-flowing as possible. Vary your tone of voice and use natural gestures and body language. Avoid sounding like you are reading off of a script. Ask your friends for feedback. Your elevator speech should mean something to you – and you need to believe it, practice it, and deliver it with honesty and sincerity. Don’t worry if your elevator speech isn’t smooth, easy, or natural at first; it you stick with it, you will find that it gets easier and better!
For more tips on networking and other career-related information, please visit the Career Center hompage.