Last week I went into the mailbox store where we have our mail delivered. I have been going to this business for years, but recently the girl who works behind the counter asked what I did for work. I answered her by saying, “I am the director of Human Resources for an Internet Marketing Company.” And she answered with an “oh.” Nothing strange about that conversation right? Except it has bugged me for several weeks now.
In my former job when someone would ask me what I did for a living, I would respond with, “I manage the finances of a film production company located in Phoenix.” That would always generate a ton of questions, especially since I lived in South East Missouri. Questions like, have I seen any of your work? How did you get into that line of work? And so on.
But with this new job and new response I didn’t get any questions. I just got an “oh”. That tells me that I need to change what I tell people I do for a living. I need to change my elevator speech because an “oh” gets me, and our company nowhere.
It’s time for me to update and improve my elevator speech. And you guys are going to go through this journey with me.
We are going to go through
1. What is an Elevator Speech?
2. The 4 step process to writing an elevator speech.
3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Speeches.
4. What you should get out of an Elevator Speech.
When you are finished with this blog post, you will be able to write and deliver an effective elevator speech that will help you successfully network and generate new leads.
What is an Elevator Speech?
An elevator speech, in general, is a speech that can be delivered in a short amount of time as in an elevator ride, typically anywhere from 20-60 seconds.
Wikipedia says, “the term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting.”
An effective elevator speech can be an amazing networking tool for you if done correctly. If you use your speech strategically, it can make networking more successful by generating new leads, developing new relationships and advancing your career.
Why you Need One
Do you feel uncomfortable when talking about yourself? Do you get tongue-tied when others ask you what you do? Having an elevator speech prepared gives you an introduction, which helps take the stress out of networking. And if you have practiced your speech and have it down, you will present yourself as more confident and self-assured.
Elevator speeches give us the opportunity to self-analyze. Developing your speech makes you think about who you are, what you do, why you do it and what you want others to know about you. This gives you an opportunity to look at your accomplishments and set more goals.
And let’s face it. The more time we are able to talk about ourselves and what we do the better right? The more we can spread the word of how we help people the better. Having a great elevator speech ready to go at all times, should generate more questions, which leads to a conversation, which ultimately leads to more customers.
When to Use One
One of the most important things to remember is that people are busy and they don’t always have time to hear a lengthy speech. And when you approach someone in an inopportune time, it will not have your desired effect.
An elevator speech can be used in several scenarios and seldom do they happen in an actual elevator. Like my example above as in a mail service store, by someone I have known for about a year and at the last place I would think of giving an elevator speech. Most people think of conferences as a great place to give and elevator speech or while traveling on an airplane. How many times in your life have people asked you what do you do? In today’s society, we place value on what people do and not really who they are anymore. So even when you least expect it, you will have an opportunity to give your elevator speech to someone. Think of it as sales copy for yourself. If you struggle with writing sales copy, put Script Doll to work for you.
Now that you know what an elevator speech is, why you need one and where to use one, let’s get started by going through the 4 step process of writing a great one.
The 4 Step Process to Writing an Elevator Speech
We all know that an elevator speech is spoken not written in most cases. But we must first write down our speech, narrow it down, then narrow it down further and then when we have perfected the written version, we practice the verbal version. When first writing the speech aim to have around 350 words or 2-3 minutes worth of speaking. From there you will want to edit it down to around 75-125 words or 30 to 60 sec worth of speaking. The 30-60 speech is great for networking events and such and the 2-3 minute speech is great if a listener is willing to give you more of their valuable time.
Let’s go through the 4 steps that it takes to write a great elevator speech.
Step 1: Explain who you are why you do what you do
I know this sounds simple. You could just state your name and job title. But I would advocate against this unless you are looking for an “oh” as a response like I had gotten before when I did that. There is more to you than just your job title.
Every single person has a why. Why do you do what you do? Is it because you have a passion for helping people? Or you have fallen in love with the process? Everyone has a why. What is your why?
According to a study by Amy Wrzeniwski, a professor at Yale University, she identified three responses to the question of who are you and what do you do? She says there is a job answer, a career answer, and a calling answer.
As an example my initial response of “I’m the Director of Human Resources for an Internet Marketing Company” would fall into the category of the Job Answer.
To take it one step further into the career answer I would say, “I have found my calling to help people in their careers by working in Human Resources for an internet marketing company.
And then to take it even further to the calling answer I would say, “ I have a passion for helping people see the potential within themselves and I have dedicated my career to helping those in the internet marketing field see that potential by sharing my knowledge in Human Resources. “
The calling answer is the most compelling of the three answers. This is because I addressed my why. Even though I do not work for myself or own my own company, I still have a why. I have a reason for why I chose to join this company.
Now that you know the first step in writing your elevator speech, which is to explain who you are and what you do, let’s move on to why your listener should care.
Step 2: What’s in it for them?
When talking about the benefits of what you do, it should never be the product that you are selling. It should always be the impact of what your product or service could have on the listeners own business.
For example, take our Birdsong software. It is a piece of software that helps marketers obtain email addresses. That is what we are selling, that is not the benefit. The benefit has to be something specific that has an effect on the listeners business. A better way for us to say what it is that Birdsong could do for our customers is to say “Marketers use our software to grow their email lists by using other people’s content, which saves them hours per day. “
Now that you have addressed the most important part, what’s in it for your listener, let’s move on to how to get the conversation moving along further. You must engage them with a question. This will move that 60 sec pitch past a pitch and into a conversation.
Step 3: Engage with a Question
Prepare to ask open-ended questions where the listener can’t answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as the answer. Ask questions that will lead that listener into how you can help that potential customer.
Asking open-ended questions like, how do you currently have a process for increasing your email list? Or how do you look for ways to increase your email list building skills? This gives you an opportunity to implant what you can do for the listener and their business.
Now that you have written out who you are and what you do, addressed what is in it for the listener and have engaged with an open-ended question, it’s time to edit that pitch down and practice it until it comes naturally to you.
Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice
Now that you have your elevator pitch written down, it is time to edit it. Then edit it some more. Then edit it even further. After you have it written it down, I would suggest you record yourself as you rehearse. After you have recorded yourself, watch it and look for areas where you could take what you are saying and break it down to say it in fewer words. Also, make sure that you cut out any jargon as many people will not understand the lingo that you use.
Review how you are coming across in your speech. It may take a bit of practice before it starts to sound natural but of course, written text never sounds natural when spoken. Take the time to edit it a few times to make sure it does sound natural and most importantly, like you.
Then memorize the most important sections of the speech that don’t necessarily come naturally to you. Review them continually so that you always keep it at the top of your mind and can give it at any moment.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Speeches
Now that you know the steps that it takes to write an elevator speech, let’s go over some examples of some bad speeches and how to make them better, as well as some pretty amazing ones, and why they are so great. And then finally, let’s go over my finalized elevator speech. And you can let me know how you think I performed in the comments.
Some of the ways that elevator speeches can be bad are they are:
– Too long: The longer your pitch goes on, the less likely your listener will ask for you to talk to them longer about it. They are called Elevator Speeches for a reason, they should only last the span of an elevator ride.
– Confusing: People who are in technical careers have a tough time with this. It is easy for them to get into technical jargon like “I’m a UI designer, specializing in requirement gathering. This tells me nothing. And unless you are in that same field, chances are it means nothing to you either. Keep it simple. Explain what you do in simple terms that anyone would understand.
– Vague: If you say something like “I set your inner self free so you can be successful” what exactly does that mean? And how does that help me? And how are you going to accomplish that? This just leaves so many questions unanswered and when it is vague, it leaves me wanting to just not ask the questions.
Example of a Bad Elevator Speech
While writing this post, I reached out to a friend of mine who is not in the Internet Marketing field to see what her elevator speech sounded like. After explaining what it was and asking her what she would say she did for a living, she answered me with this.
“I am a graphic designer. I freelance part time and work in the advertising department of a large equipment manufacturer the other part of the time. Freelance is my passion, though. I work within the Nashville music industry and have clients like Universal, Sony, and various management companies. I also do a lot of local design work, and brand identity.”
This is by no means is a bad elevator speech, but we can all agree there are areas that could be improved upon. Right? So let’s go over those.
Why it was bad
It gives the sense of been everywhere, and nothing specific that leads me into what exactly she does and wants me to walk away knowing. She talked about her passion- which is what I feel she should have started with. She talks about working for a large equipment manufacturer which is clearly not what she enjoys most and should be promoting. She needs to promote her freelance business, as that is clearly her passion.
How to make it better
I would completely take out the part about working for a large manufacturer and focus strictly on promoting her freelance business. I would re-write it as follows.
“I have a passion for graphic design, which is why I started my own business called XYZ Designs. I have worked in the Nashville music industry for the past five years and have had clients such as Universal and Sony as well as various management companies. Even though I love working in the Nashville music industry, I also enjoy doing local design and brand identity in the Southeast Missouri area. My specialty is in Southern Design, which is how I landed work with Junk Gypsy, a design company featured on HGTV.”
If you are looking for some great examples of elevator speeches, the site “Your Personal Brand” (http://yourpersonalbrandname.com/elevator-pitch-examples/) has a lot of really great examples. One of those examples is below.
“My name is _______ and I’m an HR professional who implements innovative recruiting strategies. I have a broad range of experience, so let me tell you about my best project. When I joined as an HR manager, they were losing engineers left and right and had trouble attracting top engineers fast enough to keep their teams productive. I implemented a series of recruiting strategies like having our executives give talks at premier engineering colleges and conducting informal referral get together. I’m happy to report that as a result we were able to attract and hire top talent thereby growing the business by 60%.”
What makes it a good example?
This example really focuses in on one area of his or her job that they were quite proud to be able to accomplish. They discussed what struggles the company had when they joined and how specifically they addressed and fixed those struggles.
My Revised Elevator Speech
“My name is Tabitha Thomas and I have a passion for helping people see the potential within themselves to do great things. I am the Director of Human Resources for Fearless Social and there I run a program called The Syndicate Momentum which is designed to help business owners find the focus they need to take their business to the next level by having a weekly accountability call.”
So, how do you think I performed? Was it better than a simple “I’m a director of Human Resources?” Let me know in your comments below how you feel I did. And if you need that motivation to get your deadlines done join our Fearless Deadline call.
What You Should Get Out of an Elevator Speech.
By now, you know what an elevator speech is, why you need one, the steps to take to write an elevator speech, what makes it good and ways to correct it if it’s not that great. Some things that you should get when you walk away from an elevator speech is
– Contact information for the person you were giving the speech to.
– A scheduled meeting to discuss what you are able to do for the listener.
– A referral to someone they know whom you could help.
– If they are not in your market, then, at least, you had good practice for the next one.
The most important thing to remember is that it is not about what your listener can do for you, but rather what you can do for your listener. People want to do business with people they know and like. Be a likable, honest, helpful person and that will make you a successful person.
- How to become your own boss in less than 365 days - February 9, 2016
- How I was Able to Create a $10k a Month Revenue Stream and Still be a Rock Star Mom and Employee - February 1, 2016
- The 4 Pieces you Must Have to Reach $10k per Month Working from Home - January 22, 2016
- Getting More Organized: 4 Ways to Triple Your 2016 Income - January 11, 2016
- How your procrastination is keeping you from earning 5 figures a month (and the 5 ways to fix it) - January 1, 2016
- 4 Steps to an Elevator Speech that will Increase Your Leads in a Week - December 18, 2015
- 4 Ways Your Perfectionism Kills Your Success and How to Correct Them - December 2, 2015
- 6 Steps to a Creative Employee Handbook (While Keeping you Legally Protected) - November 16, 2015
- How To Cut Your Work Week In Half By Using Procrastination Killers - November 4, 2015
- How to Make Your New Employee Fall in Love with Your Company from Day One - October 28, 2015