Craft an Effective Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator speech can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds or 100-150 words). The idea of an “elevator speech” is to have a prepared presentation that grabs attention and says a lot in a few words.

It is said that many of the most important decisions made on the floor of the United States’ House or Senate are made “within the span of an elevator ride” as a staff aide whispers into a Congressman or Senator’s ear while they head down to the floor to cast their vote.

Do you remember the key scene in the movie Working Girl when Melanie Griffith’s character delivers her elevator pitch (literally done in the elevator)?

An effective elevator speech comes in handy when you attend an event, a conference, a convention, or some other type of meeting with networking opportunities. You will notice that one of the first questions people ask is, “And, what do you do?” “Oh, I’m a lawyer … or an accountant … or a consultant … or an artist…” It doesn’t matter because they will often say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and immediately label you in their mind with all of the stereotypes they perceive those occupations carry with them. However, if you turn your message around and start with an answer like, “I work with small businesses that are grappling with computer problems,” right away – especially if they own a small business – their ears will perk up and they will want to know more.

Developing Your Elevator Speech

Map it out:

o Who am I and what do I have to offer?

o What am I looking for and why?

o What can I contribute?

o What would I like?

Ask yourself the following questions to help round out your preparations and give depth to your message.

o What is my purpose? What am I trying to accomplish?

o What would be a successful outcome?

o How do I want people to feel?

o What do I want people to remember?

Keep in mind the basic elements of an effective elevator speech:

o Concise: An effective elevator speech is succinct, containing as few words as possible, but no fewer.

o Clear: Rather than being filled with acronyms, jargon, and ten-dollar words, an effective elevator speech can be understood by your grandparents, parents, and the kid next door. Make sure the audience understands what you are talking about and what’s in it for them.

o Informative: As much as is possible, an effective elevator speech is specific and tangible. Talk about demonstrable accomplishments and goals.

o Engaging: Your elevator speech is a conversation starter, not a monologue. You want to spark the interest of your audience, not bore them.

o Finish with a Request: At the end of your pitch, you must ask for something. Do you want their business card, to schedule a full presentation, to ask for a referral?

Put your plan into action:

o Write out a script.

o Practice in front of the mirror, and with friends, family, or CES. Record it, and listen to it. Do you sound confident? Sincere? Is it engaging?

o Ask for feedback.

Once you get a chance to try out the speech, think about how it worked for you:

o How did you feel?

o How did your audience react?

o Was there something you wish you had said?

o Was there something you wish you had not said?

o Update your speech and get ready for the next time!


Sample Elevator Speech

“I am Kip Piper of MTC Interactive. I work with independent professionals and small business owners to get more customers, get them to spend more and get them to spend more frequently by implementing a systematic marketing strategy that utilizes both printed materials and the Internet.” (End with a request, such as for a business card, appointment, or a referral, depending on your audience. For example, “May I have your business card to send you some information?”)

Elevator Speech Template

I am _________________ of__________________________. I work with _________________________ to __________________________________ by_________________________.

Try it out as often as you can. If the other person immediately responds, you have a winner. If their eyes seem to glaze over, they give you a confused look or if they bob their head with a fake smile on their face, you may consider tweaking it a bit.