We’ve all been there.
We’re attending a seminar, networking event, or social function, and the leader announces, “Before we get started, let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves. Stand up. Tell us who you are and what you do. Give us your elevator speech.”
For many, this is a “religious moment.” Inside our heads we’re saying, “Please God, don’t let him call on me first. I know I should have been working on this. I’ll be prepared next time. Please don’t let me embarrass myself by being the first picked!”
I’ve been there, and it’s not fun.
What is an elevator speech and why have one?
An elevator speech is a personal, “mini-infomercial” that tells people, very clearly, who you are and what you do.
Elevator speeches are not meant for selling. Instead, the objective is simple: Inform listeners what you do and the type of job you seek.
Clarity is not optional. When they understand, they can decide to have conversation with you (or not), about your job search. If they have a clear understanding of what you want and believe you have expertise, they can refer others to you.
Two distinct audiences for an elevator speech
Elevator speeches are delivered to two different audiences: To a group or to an individual. Each has specific (and different!) objectives:
When we attend group functions where we have the opportunity to present our elevator speech, the goal is:
Everyone hearing it has a very clear understanding about who we are and the type of position we want. They have enough information to recognize if it’s something they, or someone they know, would like more information on.
They should not be trying to decipher what they just heard. They should GET IT! immediately, when we deliver it. If they are confused by what we said – it’s over!
Ideally, people approach us during a break or after the event, ask a few questions, and agree to set a time and date for a conversation to gather additional information and determine if they want to help us.
Such elevator speeches are given in planned and unplanned settings. They happen continually when we meet new people.
The planned speech often has a directive like this:
“Before our scheduled program at 8:00 p.m., we have time allotted for networking. Get here by 7:30 p.m. and network!”
An unplanned elevator speech can be called upon almost anywhere, anytime. We could be standing in line for a movie, concert or grocery store checkout. A conversation is struck up with folks, also waiting, around us. Someone introduces themselves by saying, “I’m Ted. I work over at Home Depot in the Paint department. What’s your name, and what do you do?”
The individual, face-to-face elevator speech has two goals:
Whether planned or unplanned, one goal is to dis-qualify the person you’re talking with. Not everyone you meet can / will help you land a position. After all, you’re not a prospect to everyone looking for a job, are you?
The second goal and the ideal result, is the individual stops and says, “Wait. I might know of an opportunity for you. Tell me more. Here’s my card and give me yours. Let’s set a time to meet and continue this conversation.”
Two words crafted my elevator speech template:
An elevator goes up, one floor at a time. An elevator speech should be crafted, floor-by-floor! Each floor should convey specific information.
An elevator speech is a mini-presentation. It is a speaking opportunity! … an important one!
If you’ve seen me (Fred Miller of No Sweat Public Speaking) speak, watched my videos, or read my books or posts you know my mantra is, “Speaking opportunities are business, career, and leadership opportunities!” No one ever challenges that statement. Why would they!
Whether delivered to a room full of people, a group gathered around a conference table or only one person – it is a presentation!
Since it is a mini-presentation, it should have the same essence as a presentation.
The essence of a great elevator speech
A great elevator speech should:
- Clearly articulate what you do, and if time allows, something that indicates expertise. (We like to work with experts, don’t we!)
- Be succinct.
- Have an impact.
My Elevator Speech
What follows is my elevator speech. It is the culmination of much research, testing, and tweaking. It is the one I deliver, when given the opportunity, in front of groups. It goes “from the ground floor to the top floor.” Since it covers everything I want to tell a group, I refer to it as “The ultimate elevator speech.”
Please read it and “hear” my voice as you do. It’s about 37 seconds in length.
My “Ultimate Elevator Speech”
My name is Fred Miller.
I’m a speaker, a coach, and an author.
The title of my first book is, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!”
Businesses, individuals, and organizations hire me because they want to improve their public speaking and presentation skills.
They do that because they know; speaking opportunities are business, career, and leadership opportunities.
They also know; we perceive really good speakers as experts! We like to work with experts.
I show them how to develop, practice, and deliver, a ‘knock your socks off!’ presentation with – NO SWEAT!
The “Twitter-type” elevator speech
Sometimes, because there is a large group or tight time constraints, the leader says, “Please deliver your elevator speech in 15 words or less.”
This can be challenging, but is worth the challenge because less can be more. Think how powerful Twitter tweets can be even though tweets must be kept to 140 characters or less. Think how you can craft a message that states who you are and what kind of job you want as briefly and powerfully as possible.
Prepare and practice your elevator speech! Doing so can help you … Get a Job!