The Elevator Speech: Your 30-Second Commercial Frank Traditi The term "elevator speech" is an oxymoron. Rarely do you hear someone giving a speech in an elevator, much less look at the person next to them. They might think you are in need of medical assistance if you start launching into a speech. Most of us just stare at that small crack separating the two doors. Be that as it may, the term elevator speech is a common one. What it means is that you have about 30 seconds to make a positive impression on people you meet and get them interested in continuing the conversation. This precious time is all you have to create the important first step in developing a relationship. It’s what people will remember about you and what they will repeat to others. 30 seconds is about the time it takes an elevator to go 20 floors, give or take a few. Think about it the next time you are staring at the elevator door. Where does the elevator speech come into play? • Meeting new people • Networking • Public speaking • Sales calls • Interviewing • Anywhere you get asked about what you do • And yes, even in an elevator! Your elevator speech is a critical part of your networking game plan. Think back over the last 30 days and try to remember someone you met who stood out as a real professional, enough to make an impact, where you would consider doing business with them or refer them onto a friend. Which Floor? - The formula for your Elevator Speech The format for your elevator speech is simple. It's made up of 4 components: 1. I am 2. I do 3. I help 4. I need The "I am… and I do…" Stage The first two steps are simple. Let’s take a look at Bob Smith. Bob is ready to get out and network. He’s going to help us understand just how the elevator speech might work for a few professions. Here are a couple of examples of how you might start out your elevator speech with Bob's help: • "I'm Bob Smith and my expertise is in technical sales consulting." • "I'm Bob Smith and my specialty is in financial accounting." • "I'm Bob Smith. I'm specially trained in designing company websites to get more sales." As you can see, the idea here is to announce yourself as - specialist, expert, trained, accomplished, seasoned, skilled, qualified - in your field. To avoid the blank stare syndrome or come across negative, you DON'T want your introduction to sound like this: "I'm Bob Smith and I am... • Unemployed... • A management consultant • An IT professional • Out of work... • Collecting unemployment… • Desperate for a job or work... What would you think if someone else said any of this to you? A big part of presenting yourself in public and connecting with your network is about attitude. Expressing confidence with your skills, talent and special ability, gives people a good feeling about you. That’s when they want to help you out. The "I Help…" Stage The next step takes the most preparation of all. The "I help" stage is critical in that you don't just rattle off a title or jargon that you think someone understands. This is where you separate yourself from the rest of the crowd. It's an opportunity to create conversation and entice someone to want to hear more about you. It's your chance (and sometimes your only chance) to give that person a reason to build a business relationship with you. In the "I help" stage, you’re stating how you help people or companies with your special skill. The important part about this stage is that people recognize you as a problem solver. What you say here leaves the impression with your contact that you have a unique ability to fulfill a need or tackle a specific challenge. If you can solve problems or make life easier, that’s what people remember. And what people remember, they repeat – over and over again. Let’s go back to Bob Smith. His "I help" stage might sound like this: • "I help sales people bridge the information gap with their clients so they can close more sales. I make it easy for both the client and a sales person to do business with each other." • "I help account executives develop a solid relationship with clients that need highly technical solutions." • "I help accounting departments in small to medium sized businesses perform successful financial closings every month." • "I create and manage a financial reporting system that everyone in the company can understand and benefit from." • "I help a company upgrade their website from it being just an online brochure to a highly profitable marketing and sales tool." Again, these statements are simple and easy to understand. Notice how these statements present your capabilities and expertise as if you already have the job. An important thing to remember when delivering your elevator speech is to phrase your words as if you are talking to someone who has NO IDEA about what you do. Pretend they're clueless. This way, you've broken it down to its simplest form. Easy to understand and most important...they can repeat it to everyone they meet. The "I Need..." Stage Let’s finish your speech up with the "I need" statement. Again - you DON'T want to end up your perfectly crafted elevator speech with statements like: • "I need a job." • "I need to find work before I go crazy!" • “I’m broke and I need some money fast!” This would be the last thing your networking contact hears and the impression they're left with. This is not the kind of message you want to leave with important contacts. Let's go back to Bob and see what he thinks we should do. • "I'm looking for an opportunity to use my unique ability to translate technical information for sales people and clients in a small business environment." • "My next career venture is with a consulting firm that focuses on delivering accounting applications." • "I'm talking to companies that are in need of significantly improving the functionality of their website to a sales and marketing engine. I can really help small businesses take their site to a whole new level." On the Way Up - Putting It All Together Here's a look at Bob's elevator speech from when we first meet him to when we understand what he's looking for. For illustration purposes, we'll pretend Bob has taken the "website specialist" path. I AM... "Hi, I'm Bob Smith." I DO... "I'm specially trained in designing company websites to get more sales." I HELP… "I help a company upgrade their website from it being just an online brochure to a highly profitable marketing and sales tool." I NEED... "I'm talking to companies that need to turn their website into a sales and marketing engine. I can really help small businesses take their site to a whole new level." You now have the full picture what an elevator speech is and its importance in delivering your message to those who have influence in your success. Be prepared to modify your elevator speech throughout your entire business life and career. You’ll most likely end up making it shorter, less complicated, and with more impact. People have to know what you do, how you help, and what you're looking for. The elevator speech is where you start. GOING UP!
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