Elevator Speech Do's and Don'ts

We've all struggled with that one minute introduction of our business at networking events. We have one minute to give the audience a meaningful overview of our life's work – the object of so much love, effort, blood, sweat, toil and trouble. What a nutty idea to attempt to convey that in one minute. It would take hours!

Yes, all that is true, and yes, this is the format we must conform our description to. How in the heck can we do that in a meaningful and effective way? Here are a few ideas.

1.) The purpose of the elevator speech is to attract interest and attention to your business – especially specifically from your target market. This is not a sales pitch, where you want to convey every feature and benefit. The purpose is to attract the attention of those in need of what you sell – not to sell them. Used correctly, it invites further inquiry and conversation from those likely to buy. Because it has a different purpose, it conveys different information and is targeted to attract rather than to inform.

2.) The elevator speech needs to be about THEM – your target market, not about you and the "stuff" you sell. It needs to address and answer a "crying need" for your potential client / customer. They are interested in themselves, their needs and wants, problems and desired solutions. Make your one minute count by showing how you can solve their real world problem (s).

3.) When it's your turn, if speaking to a group, stand up, stand up straight, speak up, and project your voice. Speak slowly and enunciate every word. Be sure that everyone in the room can hear you. Do not fall into the fearful tension of hurriedly garbling a mouthful of mumbled words.

Turn and face the audience. Make eye contact. If you have to move to be seen, do it. You'll stand out as having more presence and confidence. Be fearless. This is your business at stake. You came to the networking event to attract attention to your business. Take your one minute and make the most of it.

4.) Practice, practice, practice. Pay attention to the response you get. What you're looking for is for people to show curiosity, interest, attention, ask questions, and want to know more. If you're not getting these kinds of responses, you do not have the right words yet. Keep working on it. Do not worry about "getting it wrong". That is self interested. Instead, pay attention to your audience and observe their reactions.

With a large audience, if you have a great elevator speech, you may get some audit response. More likely though, the way you will gauge this is how many people come up to you and want to know more about your business.

When you're addressing an individual, the response will be obvious – whether negative or positive. This information can be substantially important to you. Be aware, observant and especially pay attention to whether or not it works with your intended target market.

5.) You've stuck gold when your elevator speech effectively attracts your target market, causing them to self identify with your message, and has them wanting more details. Make this your objective in constructing your elevator speech. Pay attention and preserve those words, phrases and concepts that get you these results of results.

6.) You may want to get together with a few other business owners and help each other fine tune your elevator statements. The group serves as a feedback mechanism and helps each member evaluate what works and what does not work. Each member can create the most effective elevator speech in the shortest amount of time, with focused input.

7.) Recognize that settings where you employ the elevator speech are typically social, and salesmanship is not appropriate. Remember that your object is to get the interest and attention of those who need and want what you have to sell. Do not turn off their interest by trying to sell them at the first sign of interest. That's like trying to French kiss someone you've just met. Too early, not welcomed, off-putting – does not work! Do not do it or you will end up "wasting" your success in attracting attention.

8.) Always come prepared. Always, always, always have cards with you. Keep an extra box in the car so that you do not forget them at home. Once you've got the attention of your target market, do not waste the opportunity by having no way for them to get in touch with you. Do not embarrass yourself by having to scribble your contact information on a ripped scrap of borrowed paper.

You've done what it takes to get their attention and interest. Be totally professional and give them what they need to contact you. Even better, ask their permission to contact them – and do it right away.

If they want more information, have that with you too. Do not give it out indiscriminately. You'll just be wasting your money. When someone requests more information, give it to them. It's best to have it with you, but alternatively, arrange to send it to them.

An excellent elevator speech can be one of your most effective tools. Used with a consistent networking strategy, it can bring you a steady stream of qualified clients. Take the time to construct a compiling elevator speech – that attracts your target market – and deliver it with confidence and conviction.