So, what's an elevator speech, and how do you get one?
What Is It?
An elevator speech is a short (15-30 second, 150 word) sound bite that succinctly
and memorably introduces you. It spotlights your uniqueness. It focuses on the
benefits you provide. And it is delivered effortlessly.
Elevator speeches are intended to prepare you for very brief, chance encounters in
an elevator. But elevator speeches are not just for elevators! You should use it
whenever you want to introduce yourself to a new contact. That could be in the
supermarket, waiting in line at an ATM or when you get your morning latte.
So, who better than you to describe with passion, precision and persuasiveness what
you do? A great elevator speech makes a lasting first impression, showcases your
professionalism and allows you to position yourself.
And if you want to network successfully, you need an elevator speech!
How to Prepare an Elevator Speech, or What's My Line?
Now for a short course in preparing your elevator speech, or unique selling
First, and most important, think in terms of the benefits your clients or customers
derive from your services.
Trust me, no one is going to be riveted if you say:
"Hi, my name is Stanley Manly, and I'm a public relations executive with twenty
years of experience."
"Hi, I'm Sally Hopeful, and I'm an executive recruiter.
Two big yawns.
What's In It for Me?
Do you recall that old radio station, WII-FM: What's In It For Me?!
If you remember that people are always more interested in how you can help them,
you're on the right track. Keep that top of mind when composing your speech.
Here's how to improve the two examples mentioned above:
"Hi, my name is Stanley Manly, and I help inventors tell the world about their
"Hi, I'm Sally Hopeful. I partner with companies that need to find talented people to
help their business growth and become more profitable."
Now, you've got my attention!
Let's use my elevator speech before and after as an example:
Here's my before version (and I wondered why people looked at me with a frozen
"Hi, I'm Dale Kurow, and I'm a career and executive coach. I hold a Master's Degree
in Career Counseling and have been trained by a master level coach. (Who cares!)
I've been an HR director for a multinational cosmetic company, run a PR agency and
taught college-level business courses. (So what!) I believe that coaching can be the
catalyst to change your life. (Are you asleep yet?)
See how that was all about me, me, me?
Now for the revised version:
"Hi, I'm Dale Kurow, and I help people become more successful at their work. For
example, I've helped a client change jobs with a 40% salary increase, I've helped a
client develop the skills to deal with a difficult boss, and I've helped a manager
devise new ways to keep her staff motivated."
Here are a few more examples:
I know an Avon representative who says:
"I help women look beautiful."
Or a business coach that says:
"I help you get more clients than you know what to do with."
And here's my favorite, one that is used by an IRS agent:
"I'm a government fund-raiser."
So, here's what you need to do to craft your elevator speech.
First, write down the "deliverables" -- the services or features that you
provide. Then, think in terms of the benefits that your clients or employer could
derive from these services. You could use several successful client outcomes, as I
Once you've got that written, create an opening sentence that will grab the
listener's attention, as our Avon representative did above. The best openers
leave the listener wanting more information. And you do not have to include your
title, especially if you think it has a negative connotation (an IRS agent, for
Finally, your elevator speech must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice
your speech in front of the mirror and with friends. Record it on your answering
machine, and listen to it. Do you sound confident? Sincere? Is it engaging?
Tweak accordingly. Then, take it on the road.
Dale Kurow, M.S., is an author and a career and executive coach in NYC.
Dale works with clients across the U.S. and internationally, helping them to become
better managers, figure out their next career moves and thrive despite office
politics. Visit Dale's web site at http://www.dalekurow.com/newsletter to sign-up for her free monthly ezine "Career Essentials," chocked full of
career tips and strategies you can use immediately.