Elevate Your Elevator Speech

Elevator Speeches … 30 Second Commercials … Shameless Self-Promotions. They’re our typical response to the often asked ‘What do you do?’ We all use them at networking meetings and other professional group events. But, most of us don’t do them with enough focus, flexibility and finesse. As these events increase with warmer weather, it’s time for your annual Elevator Speech Upgrade. So, enjoy these simple and easy strategies to Elevate Your Elevator Speech (ES).

1. Less Is Definitely More
Elevator speeches are supposed to begin a dialogue – not be a monologue. They should provide enough focused information to engage your listeners in conversation. Think billboard, not full page ads. With every word or fact, you might mention, ask yourself ‘Who cares – really?’ Hint – it’s them, not you.

2. It’s Not About You!
It’s about the people listening to it. It’s about why they should want to ask you more questions to get to know you better. A good ES should generate four or five more specific questions if they’re interested in you. If not, you’ve just saved them and you some valuable networking time. Move on … and see if they’ve brought out the shrimp yet.

3. Let Go The Ego
Who really cares about your title? It’s probably on your business card anyway. Write out your typical ES and count the ‘I statements’. The more you have, the more ego you can let go.

4. Become Buyer-Driven
Typical ES content includes a ‘seller-driven’ menu of our products, services or features. Stand out in a crowd by becoming more buyer-driven. Focus on what THEY want or get when they work with you … the benefits and value.

5. WII-FM?
Everyone is listening to the same virtual radio station all the time – ‘What’s In It – For Me?’ If you focus on a buyer-driven ES, they will clearly hear what could be in it for them. And they might also see something in it for someone they know – the mission-critical referral.

6. Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect!
No, practice only makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. So, practice your succinct, buyer-driven ES so it’s articulate and enthusiastic. Prepare similar focused responses to the obvious question interested people might ask.

Let’s put these strategies to work with a simple example:

‘Before’…. Maybe your typical seller-driven ES goes something like …

“I’m founder, president and managing partner of Schmoozer Creative Services Incorporated. I write copy. I design campaigns. I place media buys. I handle collateral and point of purchase … I even coordinate web designs and e-commerce. I work with small, medium and large clients in NE OH, around the state and in other major markets. I work in all major industry segments. I’ve been in business for six years.” 

Not all that bad for a seller-driven message … but it’s too long, rambling, egocentric and feature-laden. The listener is likely to get off at the next floor.

… and ‘After’.  With a little focus and finesse, your new buyer-driven message could go like this…

“I run Schmoozer Creative Services and work with entrepreneurs who want to maximize their advertising results. Agencies and ad departments also benefit who want creative, efficient and effective outside support. They value my help in copywriting, campaign design, media buying, collateral and POP coordination.”

What a Difference!

  • Shorter – from 71 words down to 44.
  • Focused – some facts didn’t pass the ‘Who cares?’ test, like bland references to markets, industry segments and tenure.
  • Unpretentious – from eight ‘I’ statements down to one and no reference to founder and title. “I run…” suggests ownership without the ego.
  • Benefits-rich – instead of the usual laundry list of features, it suggests who benefits from partnering and how. It stresses value.
  • Buyer-driven – it’s easy for listeners to determine if there’s enough interest to ask more specific questions or consider a referral.

Simple … And Easy

If you want to easily take your elevator speech to a higher floor, write out what you typically say in response to “… so what do you do?” Edit it in the context of the comments above. Then, polish and practice it until it flows smoothly with enthusiasm and sounds just like you. Then … enjoy the ride up to the top floor.