Elevator Speech Examples – The FIVE MOST Common Mistakes

As a small business you need an elevator speech. Whether you actually call it an “elevator speech” a “30 second introduction” or an “infomercial” is irrelevant. When you are asked “what do you do?” then your answer is your elevator speech whether you like it or not.

This needs some thought and practice to avoid these most common mistakes. Beware! Succinctly getting your message over in a way that grabs attention is not always as easy as “just telling others what you do”.

Mistake 1 – Talking about yourself

Eh? How are you going to tell people about what you do without talking about yourself? This is THE MOST common mistake as a result. It sounds like a list of what you do. For example “We do this…” or “I am an internet guru” or “I am a professional with this, that and the other service”

The downside to this is twofold. Firstly, people don’t really care about all your services, accolades and self-appointed titles. They are trying to decide quickly if you are someone who may be able to help them, or are worth chatting to further as a networking partner.

Secondly – it is so common that your message will sound very similar to other people in the same niche. When that happens it is hard to grab attention.

The solution is to change your mindset and put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client and think about the CHALLENGES they face and how you solve them. Use that as the lead into your elevator speech. In other words: “I work with (this type of client) struggling with (this type of problem).

Mistake 2 – Expecting others to “get” you

The most common example of this is assuming people will understand AND be interested when you label yourself or your company – “We are tax attorneys” and leaving at that. Here’s the thing: people often either don’t get what you do (perhaps they have never heard of it) or they assume they know what you do and it is different from the reality.

In either case it would be nice to think your listener would stop you and ask you to elaborate. They won’t. They will be confused, embarrassed they don’t understand or disinterested and move on.

Avoid labelling yourself – stick to the formula above and talk to THEIR challenges.

Mistake 3 – Irrelevant information

You must have heard how this sounds: “We have been in business 75 years and are based on main and 35th street, just opposite from the big new McDonald’s that has opened there……..”

This is a variation on talking about yourself but is specific and common enough to warrant it’s own category. Again, unless this is of specific importance and relevance to the audience (you are a retail outlet or restaurant in which case location is important) then it is just noise to the audience.

The solution is simply to cut it out of your intro – it wastes time and adds little value. Again, stick to your target audience and what concerns them. That is the litmus test of all your intro material.

Mistake 4 – Trying to be cute

Tricky one this. There is a lot of advice out there recommending a tag line to keep you memorable. This can certainly work but for every funny play on words there are countless groan inducing puns or worse, tag lines that really don’t make sense.

It is the same advice as humor in a presentation. It can be great, but you really have to know what you are doing and so few people do it well. There is a very fine line between being witty and offending. Also a clever play on words can confuse.

If you have a clever tag line that works, by all means stick with it. However it isn’t necessary and don’t waste time thinking one up. Just stick with your message that you help a certain audience with a specific problem of problems.

Mistake 5 – Not trying

This might be harsh when considering an elevator speech but, let’s face it, sometimes people give up with their elevator speech and sometimes they will tell you about it:

“Well, I’m really nervous/not good at this so I will just tell you about the company”

At other times it is basically being unprepared and it can be embarrassing to watch someone stumble through an elevator speech without a clear goal or plan. Don’t let it happen to you!

You should ALWAYS be prepared to introduce yourself – there is no excuse for being caught off guard and certainly not to give up on the whole thing and muddle through.

These mistakes are on display at every networking event. You can avoid them, and therefore stand out by sticking to the simple formula mentioned above. An Elevator speech doesn’t need to be rote, learned by heart or formulaic. You can use different words and gear it to your audience as long as you have thought about it beforehand, and keep these mistakes in mind!