How to prepare an elevator speech

The theme of building relationships and being visible has surfaced across several coaching conversations, workshops and events over the past few weeks. Lois Frankel recommends spending five percent of your work time, networking and building relationships. That’s two hours of a 40-hour work week.  

One of the tools helpful in this regard is using elevator speeches. An elevator speech is a short description of a person, idea, or company that explains what it is and its value in such a way that any listener can understand it in a short period of time – i.e. the time it takes for an elevator ride – 30 to 60 seconds.

Lois says “When you need a relationship, it’s too late to build it”. I say “By the time you need an elevator speech, it’s too late to script it!” There are several opportunities to have a speech prepared for, including updating your boss, riding the lift with the CEO, or anyone new asking you about what you do.

At the minimum I recommend having two kinds of elevator speeches ready – one to introduce yourself and what you do to new people, and the other to update your boss or other key stakeholders should you bump into them and the opportunity arises.

Introducing yourself
Prepare an introduction that lets people know who you are, what you love doing, and how it makes a difference.

I do… instead of I am a…
Instead of introducing yourself by your role or title “I am a (role)” …… consider starting by describing a problem and how you solve it. “You know how (certain people have a certain problem)? I help those people by (describe what you do)“.

Be prepared for different angles
In general, for your career, have an answer prepared for questions such as …
– What do you do?
– What would your ideal job be?
– What should I tell people about you?
– When should I think of you?
You don’t have to actually wait for someone to ask you these exact questions – but it helps to formulate a clear, short and simple way of sharing this information.

Keep it Short
Even if asked an open question, stay at a high level and resist adding detail. Keep it short.

Make it memorable
Use a number. Sort and simplify for the listener. It helps then follow what you are saying and remember.
“We’ve had three meetings on it”
– “There are four important things we found out about..”
– “We’re down to our final two…

Tailor it to the listener
WIIFM (What’s in it for me) – lead with what’s important to the listener. We tend to talk through the filter of what’s important to us. We need to present the information thorough the filter of what’s important to them!

Prepare and rehearse
This goes for all types of elevator speeches. Prepare and rehearse so you can easily pull it out when needed. While doing dishes tonight think “What’s going on for me these days? What are the salient points?”. Assign each point a little name tag to make it easier to retrieve it later.

Do you have an elevator speech prepared? Let me know in the comments below.

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