Elevator Speeches: Like Speed Dating for the Business World

by Carrie Thompson on October 9, 2006

by Carrie Thompson | October 9th, 2006  

Speech30 seconds or fewer. Not much time for a presentation. Especially for those of us in the south who have a gift for discourse. Better yet, especially for those of us in sales who have the gift of banter. My last job involved selling product identification labels to manufacturing companies. Pretty hard to come up with a concise statement about that subject, considering noone knew what exactly we did. I would have been better understood telling people I was in the mob. In the days of ADHD, elevator speeches have become more important than ever.

What is an elevator speech? Trust me, you’ve done it a thousand times. Whether it be an pitch to a potential client, a trade show, a job interview or just networking at the bar, an elevator speech is a short introduction to who you are, what you do and your purpose.

So how does one perfect the elevator speech? Just like the SAT’s – Preparation. I can’t make you more creative or more succinct, but I can tell you to memorize the heck out of your speech. There isn’t much room for error when you have half a minute to make an impression. Other than that, the rules aren’t much different than those of a standard speech. Start with an attention grabber. Hard to believe this is important when making a speech of this duration, but it certainly is. Know thy audience and know thy self. If you’re not comfortable with what you’re saying, it will come across. If you don’t know the answers to any follow-up questions that may occur, you might as well hang it up. Practicing in the mirror is stupid, so I’ll suggest practicing in the car. What else are you going to do in rush hour traffic?

The elevator speech is more or less what successful telemarketers have practiced for years. Content is key, but brevity is the bottom line. Got it? I don’t want to hear any more canned responses. Good luck out there.

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