How to Prepare a Great Elevator Speech


With so many people teleworking and working in virtual environments, you need to make every opportunity for personal interaction count. That means having an elevator speech that flows effortlessly off your tongue. But why is this so hard?

I’m thinking you may be like me. Loathe to engage in shameless self-promotion. You may be one of the 70 percent of us who wander around every day feeling like an imposter. So you keep your head down and miss valuable opportunities to share of yourself and your expertise with others. When you are at work, there are lots of people you don’t know. You feel awkward introducing yourself. It feels like you are interrupting. Surely these very important people have something better to do than talk to you?

There’s no point to being physically at work if you spend your day reading email and texting. You need to engage in meaningful personal interactions. If you haven’t read Amy Cudy’s book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges you need to give it a read.  In a world of virtual work, when you are physically present at work, you need to be present with intention.

An elevator speech has become a part of our culture. It is an infomercial about you. In 30 seconds you tell a person who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can add value to the organization project. If your elevators are really slow, perhaps you could add some more time. The point is, the speech should never be longer than the time it takes the elevator to get from the floor you generally enter on to the floor with your senior leadership works. This means about 75 words or eight sentences. In that brief amount of time you need to:

  1. Provide your name
  2. Say where you work
  3. Describe what you do with enthusiasm
  4. Offer a memorable example of contributions you have made
  5. Explain why you’re interested in the listener
  6. Tell what you can offer
  7. Describe the benefits of working with you
  8. Create an opportunity for follow up (business card, email, meeting) and thank the listener for his or her time.

To get started:

  • Write down everything you would like to say and start pruning. Make every single word count. Eliminate all jargon. You will also find that the small word count will mean avoiding extravagant adjectives. Stick to facts. Never use the word awesome.
  • Memorize your elevator speech. It’s only 75 words and it’s about you.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Use your phone and video yourself. Practice until you look very natural, calm, and confident.
  • Be prepared to adjust to your listener. Imagine a variety of scenarios of people you would love to meet in an elevator and prepare alternate scenarios for each. For example, I have had elevator speech scenarios with President Obama, Captain Picard, and Iris Apfel. All very different situations.

Would you like feedback on your elevator speech? I’m happy to help you out. Record your speech and post the link in the comments!

For more information check out:

UC Davis: The 30 Second Elevator Speech

Forbes: The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job

Grab Your Popcorn: The Elevator Pitch

Jeri Buchholz is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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