The Express Elevator Speech: What is it, what’s the goal, how to improve

The immediate goal of your elevator speech should be clarity and understanding. Everyone who hears it should know exactly what you do or what job you are seeking.

We’ve all been there: You go to a networking event, social function, or seminar and the leader says, “Before we get started, let’s go around the room. When it’s your turn: stand up, tell us who you are and what you do. Give us your elevator speech.”

Alternatively, you’re at a gathering where the instructions were: “Arrive early and network!”

An elevator speech is a personal infomercial that succinctly answers that question. For many, responding to that query, be it in front of a group or one-on-one, is a struggle.

Some people merely give their name, the name of their company, and the products and services they offer. That’s pretty standard, but not very inspiring.

If they are seeking a new position, they often awkwardly give their name, years in an industry and job they would like. Again, typical fare for this question, but not exciting.

That’s misfortunate. It’s a problem because the research shows: “speaking opportunities are business, career, and leadership opportunities!”

People who take and make “speaking opportunities” grow their businesses, advance their careers, gain leadership positions, and get hired for great jobs.

An elevator speech is a mini-speaking opportunity! Bottom line: Everyone needs a great elevator speech!

The ultimate goal of an elevator speech

All elevator speeches have the same ultimate goal: A conversation.

A conversation with someone having a sincere interest, for themselves or someone else, in your products and services.

Those wanting that conversation want details.

  • How much does your product or service cost?
  • What are the terms?
  • How long has this product or service been available and what is the track record?
  • Is there a guarantee?
  • How is the product or service delivered?
  • Other pertinent questions specific to their needs.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a job.

  • What specific company, companies, or industry are you looking to land in?
  • What is your experience in this, or related fields?
  • What specific skills do you possess that make you a viable candidate for this line of work?

That conversation may not be with the person who heard your elevator speech. It could be with someone referred by someone who heard it. That’s one reason the Immediate Goals of an elevator speech are critical.

Immediate goals of an elevator speech

The goal of all communication, verbal, written, or visual, is the same. We want the audience, as quickly as possible, to GET IT!

The immediate goal of your elevator speech should be clarity and understanding.

Everyone who hears it should know exactly what you do or what job you are seeking. Then, they should be able to tell others precisely what you do.

Clarity is not optional. Don’t be clever with words or phrases that can’t be interpreted immediately. Use plain, simple language, avoiding buzzwords, acronyms, and techno-speak. You won’t impress people with words they don’t know. You’ll lose them!

If they don’t get it, they’ll never be a prospect nor will they ever refer you.

There are three possible outcomes:

Number 1: People hearing it want to talk to you right away. They want to have a conversation and get details.

Number 2: They don’t need what you offer, but if they ever do, they would be very comfortable having that talk with you because you’ve established credibility and presented yourself as an expert.

Number 3: They know what you do. Their radar is now up, and if someone ever says, “Hey, I’m looking for this product or service or someone to do this kind of work,” they’ll think of, and refer, you.

Dis-qualifying is important!

When networking one-on-one, usually before a scheduled program or, perhaps, at a party, one specific goal is to dis-qualify! Everyone is not a prospect for the products and/or services you offer.

You are not going to purchase every product and service someone tells you about.

When networking, an important goal should be:

“Don’t waste major time on minor possibilities!”

Example:

I was attending a chamber event, where people arrived early to network. As typically happens, people were introducing themselves to others and giving their elevator speech.

One attendee was lady who sold replacement windows for older homes. She had a pretty good elevator speech for presenting to a group of people. It was easy to understand what she was selling. The product has an excellent reputation, and the firm she worked for had been in business for a number of years. If I was a prospect for replacement windows, or knew someone in the market for those, I’d feel comfortable having a conversation with her or making a referral.

Many attendees were not prospects for her product. They made be renters, recently purchased windows, or live in a newer home where the original ones are great. Additionally, I knew the line of windows she was selling was very high end, quite expensive, and definitely not in every homeowners budget.

Delivering her entire elevator speech to people who have absolutely no interest, or not likely to purchase her windows, was wasting their time and hers. Sure, they may know someone who may have an interest, but time is a precious commodity when networking before an event starts.

A good one-on-one elevator speech will quickly dis-qualify someone.

The “Express Elevator Speech” will do that!

Number One

It starts with asking a question. Start by answering that question by asking one.

Number Two

Give your WHY. Simon Sinek says, “It’s not what you do, but why you do it.”

Number Three

Ask another question.

I speak, coach, and write about networking, public speaking and presentation skills.

The following is my Express Elevator Speech. Put the verbiage in your world.

“Thanks for asking what I do. I’m going to answer your question by asking you one. Have you ever been an audience, watching and listening to a speaker and you think to yourself: ‘Boy! That guy is good! I mean, he is really good. He’s articulate, authentic, very entertaining. Obviously, he has a passion for what he’s doing and I’m getting a lot out of this presentation. Man! I wish I could do that.’

I’m the guy they hire to develop, practice and deliver presentations like that.

The fact is, everyone who hires me knows: speaking opportunities are business, career, and leadership opportunities!

You probably don’t know anyone who wants to improve their networking, public speaking and presentation skills, do you?”

Now that elevator speech will get their attention! It has clarity and it ends with impact.

In addition to being used one-on-one, the Express Elevator Speech can also be used when delivering it to groups. This is especially true when time is a consideration.

Use this formula for developing, practicing, and delivering your Express Elevator Speech and I guarantee the next one will be absolutely, positively – no sweat!

Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a best selling author, and an international presentation coach. His books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!” are available on Amazon.com. His website, NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com, has hundreds of articles and videos to help you be a better public speaker.