“The Best Way to Create an Effective Elevator Speech” Guest blog post written by Lori Bumgarner, M.Ed., Passion & Career Coach at HPMG partner company, paNASH
It’s Time to Ditch The Pitch for Something Better
Do some people’s elevator pitches make you wish you’d taken the stairs?
Does the thought of having to share your own elevator speech make you want to pitch yourself down the elevator shaft?
Most elevator speeches are very awkward. And it’s obvious when someone has over-thought their pitch when reciting it.
The Wrong Way to Come Up With an Elevator Speech
I have a friend and colleague who, every time I get his voicemail, I have to sit through the sound of his voice reading his elevator speech word-for-word from a piece of paper. While it’s a well-written and well-thought-out pitch, it still sounds and feels “manufactured.” It’s much like the endless elevator speeches I’ve had to sit through at networking events where we all have to go around the room and introduce ourselves with our elevator pitches.
I couldn’t begin to tell you what each person said in those meetings because I was probably sitting there trying to decide what exactly I wanted to say when it came my turn. You’ve probably experienced the same thing. All I know is by the end of it, I felt like I’d had everyone’s industry jargon vomited into my ears.
And it was obvious some people took the term “speech” literally and used the very outdated advice of making their pitch one minute long.
Have you ever timed yourself for one minute? It’s WAY TOO LONG! In fact, 30 seconds is WAY TOO LONG! Especially in this day and age where attention spans are shrinking.
Do you know what else? Not one of those pitches spoke directly to me. I never felt like the person was trying to relate to me or engage me or anyone else in the group. They just spewed out an obviously rehearsed MONOLOGUE.
How to Create a Better (and Less Annoying) Elevator Pitch
If you’re in a place where you need an elevator speech for your business or you need to update your current elevator speech for networking purposes, you’ll want to follow these tips when drafting your pitch. Doing so will result in more authentic and more productive networking conversations that are less awkward. Best of all, your listener (or listeners) won’t feel like they’re being “networked.”
1# Keep it to 7 seconds or less!
Yes, you read that right. Gone are the days of long drawn-out diatribes about what you do.
Don’t give your listener’s eyes time to glaze over as you keep babbling on about something that makes no sense to someone outside your company or your industry.
You may be wondering though how you can say everything you need to say in only 7 seconds. Read on!
2# Start With a Question to Create a Dialogue
Always start your pitch first with a question. This allows you to engage your listener or audience and begin a dialogue.
3# Make Your Question Relatable and Use Common Language
Think about what is a typical problem or challenge your market faces. What kind of wording do they typically use to describe their problem or challenge?
For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work that’s more related to their passions. But I don’t introduce myself that way.
Instead, I look at the types of words my clients use to describe their situation when they first come to me or when they fill out my intake form.
Many often say they “feel stuck” in their careers.
Everyone has felt stuck in their career or their life at one time or another. Therefore everyone can relate to that feeling.
So, my own elevator pitch starts out like this: “Have you or someone you know ever felt stuck in your career?”
Most people at least know someone who has felt stuck even if they personally haven’t, hence the phrase, “or someone you know.”
The word “stuck” is easy-to-understand language that’s common to most people’s vocabulary, as opposed to some kind of industry jargon that only my fellow career coaches would typically understand.
Plus, the word also stirs up the listener’s emotions.
4# Pique the Listener’s Interest
Nine times out of ten, the answer to my question is “yes.” A “yes” then creates buy-in to what I say next: “Well, I help people get unstuck.”
That’s it. That’s my whole elevator pitch.
From there, the listener’s interest is piqued and he or she now wants to know more about how I help people get unstuck. This usually leads to a question from my listener: “How do you do that?”
Now we’ve got a dialogue going on that allows me to go into more detail about what I do, why I do it, how I do it, etc., all the while asking the listener additional questions to keep it conversational.
So when you sit down to draft your own elevator pitch, make sure you’re creating one that is so simple not only for you to remember but for the listener to understand.
Remember to keep it short, ask a question, create a dialogue, make it relatable, keep it simple, and pique the listener’s interest.
That way, once you’ve drafted your speech, you can toss your sheet of paper out because you’ll never need to read from it or use it to memorize something that’s too long and boring.
More Networking Tips
For more networking tips, check out my previous two posts:
7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts (or Anyone Who Dislikes Networking)
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service that helps people get unstuck to pursue their passions and find work they love.