The Elevator Speech
The idea behind the elevator speech is that – by accident – you meet someone in an elevator on the
25th floor. She asks what you do. You have an opportunity to give it your best shot before getting to
the ground floor where you both get off. When you arrive at the lobby she now knows everything of
importance about your organization and why it is valuable to her.
The "elevator speech" is a brief, carefully constructed statement (about 15- 30 seconds, 150 words)
that tells people the most important information about you, your organization, and what it does. It
crystallizes the most important information about your organization into a well organized, paragraph or
two of compelling information for your audience.
Many people develop similar speeches of no more than 3 to 5 minutes based on the principles of an
elevator speech for presentations to larger groups. Remember, any time you speak you want to share a
personal story and key points about your organization or program. When speaking keep in mind –
preparation, less is more, and practice, practice, practice!
To start your “elevator speech” determine your audience and why should they know about you. What
makes you unique? What short story illustrates a successful outcome that you have produced?
An elevator speech is a distinctly personal thing, but can be developed with others. How do you craft
it? First, write down the services or features that you provide. Then, think in terms of the benefits that
your audience or prospects could derive from these services.
Once you've got that written, create an opening sentence that will grab the listener's attention. The best
openers leave the listener wanting more information.
Finally, your elevator speech must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice your speech in front of the
mirror and with friends. Record it on your answering machine, and listen to it. Do you sound
confident? Sincere? Is it engaging? Tweak accordingly. Then, take it on the road!
Key Points to Consider in Developing Your Personal Message
Start with a personal note about what the Foundation and Zonta mean to you.
Zonta and the Foundation are about promoting the status of all women everywhere.
The Zonta International Foundation is supported solely by voluntary contributions from
Zontians and friends of Zonta who share our vision for improving the status of women.
The Foundation provides Zonta with the ability to enhance and to expand existing
programs; fund new international service projects; respond to emerging women’s needs,
and to ultimately provide more service while improving the status of women worldwide.
Annually, the Foundation distributes more than $1 million (US) for these programs and
Zontains have an opportunity to support an area of interest that you are passionate about or
means the most to them. (Amelia Earhart Fellowships, Women in Business Scholarships,
Young Women in Public Affairs, ZISVAW, International Service Projects)
Giving is a uniquely personal action. We have the power to do with our money what we
want to do. No matter what the size of your gift – it all makes a difference.
Progress for women has not been easy to achieve. There are still many who wish to begin businesses
and cannot find appropriate financing, there are those who need education but have difficulty finding
the necessary funding, and there are those whose creative projects cannot flourish or even survive if
opportunities and funding are not provided.
Zonta International and the Zonta International Foundation are all about women helping women. The
Foundation provides the primary support for programs that help make a difference in the lives of
women in more than 75 countries around the world. These programs range from access to education to
access to basic health care, to preventing violence against women.
For the 2004-2006 Biennium Zontains, through the International Service Fund, are providing support
to four projects in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Niger. In fact, each year, more than $
1million dollars is distributed in support of women – from a project that benefits many to scholarships
and awards for a few promising women.
Last year at our conference, we had the opportunity to hear one of the Amelia Earhart Fellowship
recipients speak. She updated us on the important work she is doing, and she also shared why this
award was so important. I took two points away from her remarks. First, her work has the potential to
save lives. And, secondly, her gratitude for the award – she felt humbled, gratified, and warmed by the
fact that women who do not even know her believed in “women’s leadership.”
As a Zontian, Zonta holds a place in my heart. Because of that, I believe that giving to the Zonta
International Foundation needs to be an annual commitment by members, clubs, and districts. I think
of it as an additional membership commitment – a tangible demonstration of my commitment to Zonta
International and our programs.
Think back – all of us have, at one time or another, needed encouragement to succeed. Your gift
provides that encouragement and enables women, locally and globally to advance their status and to be
a success in their lives. Please consider a gift to the Foundation. You are creating a legacy for
women…today and tomorrow. Thank you.