Professionals often think the elevator speech (AKA the hallway speech, the personal statement or the introductory snapshot) is something they’ve “got down” but, too often, they don’t have it down at all! Instead, many professionals have given their elevator speech little to no time, attention or practice!

When pressed to deliver a clear, succinct 30-second “elevator speech” about who they are and what they do, people often swallow hard and reluctantly dive in, stumbling around and deciding, while they are talking, what information to share! In the end, their messages are far from crisp.

Being able to effectively deliver an elevator speech is a critical skill in expanding your relationship development comfort zone, and an easy way to differentiate oneself in an extremely commoditized industry sector. The doors are closing, so jump on!

To be clear, an elevator speech is a short description of yourself, your firm, your role and the work that you do, with other appropriate information woven in, as needed. Other elements might include the impact of your work, the industries you serve, your value proposition and differentiators.

An elevator speech is not a rote narrative, delivered the same way every time.
The challenge is to make it memorable either by what you say or by the way you say it.

FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT, THE ELEVATOR SPEECH SHOULD BE AN ASSORTMENT OF “TALK TRACKS” OR “BULLET POINTS.”

The talk tracks are mixed and matched, depending on the circumstances, so you can share appropriate information with someone you are meeting for the first time.

MAKE THE ELEVATOR PITCH YOUR OWN.

Use content, tone and inflections that reflect who you are personally. You don’t want to sound like you are delivering boilerplate copy.

If possible, get the other person to talk first so you can tailor your elevator speech with the talk tacks that you think are appropriate for the person and situation. For example, you might say, “It’s good to meet you. Tell me about yourself and the work you do.” Listen carefully and respond accordingly.

KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET.

When you offer enough information to make a fruitful connection and to “wet the whistle” of the person you are meeting, the person will likely ask you for more information. You can then share additional, prepared bullet points.

TELL STORIES.

I am a big believer in stories!) Stories help to bring elevator speeches to life. They are a very nice way to differentiate oneself from all of the other staid business descriptions.

A pal of mine who I worked with at IBM suggested letting our customers do the talking. He suggested saying something like, “If my client were here right now, s/he would say [this about us.]” The objective third party client serves as a “virtual reference” without even being there!

FINALLY, PRACTICE YOUR PITCH!

Being able to adapt your elevator speech on the fly and being confident in a variety of situations does not happen by accident. It takes work and practice. Use your internal networking conversations as a way to practice your elevator speech in less risky environments.