Thoughts on The Elevator Speech


“An elevator speech is a term taken from the early days of the Internet explosion when web development companies needed venture capital. Finance firms were swamped with applications for money and the companies that won the cash were often those with a simple pitch. The best were those that could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor. In other words, an elevator speech that worked was able to describe and sell an idea in 30 seconds or less. Today, an elevator speech can be any kind of short speech that sells an idea, promotes your business or markets you as an individual.” The quote above synthesizes a common business approach to the Elevator Speech. In the following this tool has been adapted to actual situations when strangers meet. In that context it is important to keep in mind the distinction between products and individuals. Human beings are much more than their image. De-mystifying the personal elevator speech, it can simply be defined as:

  • A communication tool
  • A short message that conveys a core message
  • An answer to the question. “What do you do?” or if you are looking to do something different “What do you want to do next?”

There are 3 key ingredients to a personal elevator speech:

  1. Who you are
  2. What do you do/ What you are interested in doing
  3. How you can be a resource to your listener / What resources you are looking for

What it is not

Try to set aside your stress and your fears. When someone asks you in the elevator: “How are you?” Don’t entertain them with recent upsets, unless that is the core message you want to convey. The elevator speech is not about how you feel.

Why prepare an elevator speech

It is important to know that using an elevator speech is not a natural way of communicating and it is even harder to use when we are stressed. So why prepare one? Whether you are looking for a job or not, you will be confronted with the question of what you do. This of course happens more frequently when you are in a new place, meeting people who do not know you. Even if you have no plans of using an elevator speech ever, the process of formulating one can be more important than actually delivering it, because it helps

  • clarify your situation, align and improve your self-image
  • present yourself to the world, in both a professional and a personal context
  • save time and energy when you re-cycle your speech in different situations

When you deliver it, remember

  • an elevator speech can be used as a starting point for a dialogue to continue
  • first impressions are important


In the elevator or at a dinner party, at other gatherings and networking events. In general when someone asks; “What do you do?” or “What kind of job are you looking for?” Who Who are you talking to? Adjust to the audience and recognize the power of networking. You never know, who knows who or who needs what. Again if you do not let the world know, they will not know.

How to write it

Our short term memory can’t contain a lot of information. Most of us are on overload most of the time; if you want someone to remember a brief encounter with you, make it memorable. “She was the marketing specialist from Paris who… ” “He was the father of 2 who loves cooking and is looking for recipes…” Make it authentic, interesting and relevant for the person you are talking to. Use a format that works for you!

A possible format to use is: “I do (XYZ), so that (XYZ)”

Let’s network!

Remember to initiate. Be curious. Ask people the questions you would like them to ask you! Yes, even if it does not come natural at first.

Anette Due Rosenzweig Career & Life Coach

PS: You are welcome to use this material as long as you credit ADRCoaching LLC.