Why I Hate Elevator Speeches … and So Should You!

Have you ever been at business networking event and heard an amateur networker deliver an ‘Elevator Speech From Hell’? I know I have. Lots of times. You wanted to hit the emergency stop button and escape fast.

They’re too long, too technical, too unfocused and too boring. In that brief opportunity to make a good first impression on strangers, those amateurs annoy and turn off people instead. That’s Why I hate Elevator Speeches … and so should you.

But, what should you do to keep your ES from becoming one from hell? Create an effective, efficient and engaging response to the question that people typically ask – ‘What do you do?

But first, elevate your elevator speech – take it to a higher floor. Make sure it’s:

  • Audience-Centric focused – aimed at the listeners with a high level of interest for them.
  • Easy to understand – no confusing acronyms, terms or buzz words.
  • Benefits rich – emphasizing who benefits from what you do rather than listing a string of facts or feature statements.
  • Interactive – helping to create a dialogue rather than a monologue by encouraging and responding to questions.
  • Concise – short enough to maintain interest and still accomplish its objective.
  • Physically energetic – focused eye contact, appropriate gestures and a smile on your face.
  • Vocally enthusiastic – delivered with strong volume and inflection, yet at a pace comfortable for the listeners.
  • Confident – projecting that you believe in what you’re saying and want them to as well, but never sounding cocky.
  • Practiced – but not memorized, so it sounds spontaneous and natural.

Then strive to make it ‘3-E’.

  1. Effective – saying the right things to the right people for the right reasons
  2. Efficient – saying those right things in the right way, with vocal and physical energy and lister-centric brevity.
  3. Engaging – making the message compelling, interesting and memorable.

So, while I still hate typically lame Elevator Speeches, I do love those that are effective, efficient and compelling … and so should you.

 (This piece first appeared in the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Council on Smaller Enterprises ‘Mind Your Business’ blog as part of my on-going resident expert series).