Teasing Out Your 30-Second Elevator Speech

Formulating your personal brand.

Refining a 30-second “elevator speech” — a statement of your professional value you can deliver in the time it takes to complete a hypothetical elevator ride — requires focus. Here’s how to make this first impression last.

In a 30-second pitch, the biggest mistake I see is that clients try to communicate too many points without driving home memorably a few key attributes.

Most listeners will remember no more than three characteristics about a person in a first meeting; determine up front the three most important traits you want to communicate, then develop statements that effectively illustrate those qualities. For example, let’s say you want to communicate that you’re:

  1. A seasoned marketing executive;
  2. Experienced in consumer goods ;
  3. A strong leader and team player.

You would illustrate these qualities by saying something like, “I offer more than 15 years of progressive advancement leading marketing teams for highly respected consumer-goods companies.”

Then you would go on to substantiate this introductory statement with specifics. “I’ve managed agency teams and internal marketing departments of up to 30; handled budgets ranging between $4 million and $7 million; and overseen brand-management, interactive-media and traditional advertising/PR channels.”

Finally, you provide the listener information that engages him to make a connection with you. “My current research has been focused around Fortune 100 companies headquartered in the Northeast that produce premium/luxury products, since that’s really my sweet spot.” These three statements portray the core of your value to a company, then substantiate the strengths with actual numbers, figures and specifics, closing with your current actions to identify opportunities that meet your qualifications.

Play it right by knowing what critical assets you want to communicate about yourself upfront and then develop three concise statements to describe how these traits match the needs of target companies.

Colleen Sabatino

Colleen Sabatino Colleen Sabatino is owner of career management firm ACDI and the author of The Play of Your Life. Previously, she was career services director for Jewish Family Services, assistant director of career services at Rice University, and career counselor at Vanderbilt University. Colleen received both undergraduate and master's degrees from Vanderbilt University.

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