Refining Your “Elevator Speech”

Have you ever had the opportunity present itself where you have one chance to share an important message? Or have to connect with someone quickly, whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or in front of a large group?

As Director of Business Development, I’m often tasked on a daily basis to intrigue and inspire potential clients. The challenge, however, is that prospective clients afford me only a small window of opportunity to deliver a concise, effective and compelling message about what we do, how we do it and how it will benefit their company. This short period of time can make or break you; it can either open or close doors.

I recently read a book called “Small Message, Big Impact” by Terri L. Sjodin. In it, the author offers strategy and advice on how to build a convincing case of effective arguments, bringing your message to life and finding your own authentic voice. An “elevator speech” is defined as a brief presentation that introduces a product, service, or idea typically clocking in around 3 minutes; because often that’s all the time you are allowed to get your point across. To be effective and convincing in such a short time frame, the author provides a structured sequence containing the following 5 steps. I have started using these to prepare for my own new business conference calls or short meetings but this is applicable no matter what you do in your professional life.

  • Gain Attention. Gain the attention of your listeners in a favorable way by relating to them and setting up your talk.
  • Establish Need for Change. Describe the problem and support your arguments clearly with strong materials and evidence to stir the minds and feelings of the listener.
  • Satisfy Need for Solution. Provide a solution to the problem and show your listeners how your plan works.
  • Visualization. Now that you’ve offered your plan or solution, you want to project your audience into the future so they can picture themselves enjoying the potential benefits.
  • Action Step. This where you close your conversation and tell your audience what you want them to do today and exactly how to do it. Briefly explain what you will do once they have made a choice to move forward.

You have to look at the 3 minute elevator speech as part of an overall process. The purpose is to captivate your audience with a peek of a never-before-seen product or expert services and leave them wanting more. And hopefully by the time you finish your next “elevator speech”, you will find the doors to your floor wide open.

Image via Beth Kanter / CC BY 2.0

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