Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift!

By Lorraine Howell, Media Skills Training

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. This is especially true in today’s tumultuous business climate.

When someone asks the introductory “What do you do?” keep in mind that 15-20 seconds -- or the length of an elevator trip – is all you have to start a meaningful conversation.

To get to the essence of a great elevator speech, answer these questions:

Who is your target audience?

Is there an ideal industry, business type, group, socio-economic status, location, hobby, or other common characteristic that describes your best customers? If your target audience is a business, what is the company’s profile? Where is the business in its growth cycle? What processes are involved in the business?

When you identify your ideal customer and target your message accordingly, listeners will see the value and be eager to talk about it. And, if the people you meet are not a fit for your skills and services, a memorable elevator speech can encourage quality referrals.

What do they care about?

Most business owners care about making a profit and outperforming their competition. Yet within each business there are unique concerns and problems. Do they have supply chain issues? What’s their employee retention history? Is their industry expanding or contracting? What issues keep the business owners up at night?

The more you understand the situation from their perspective, the more likely you will be to hit a nerve with your elevator speech. Ask your best customers what is important to them and listen carefully. Within their comments are the jewels that can help you stand out.

What results/benefits do you provide?

Don’t launch into a long explanation about how you do what you do. This confuses the process with the results. Rather, define what problems you solve for your customers. Here are two examples to help frame your storytelling:

•“I help level the playing field for vendors who are negotiating contracts with large multi-national corporations.”

•“I help business and community leaders prepare for the spotlight through public speaking coaching and media interview preparation.

What spins your jets about what you do?

People like to work with professionals who demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for their work, so share zest and energy when you deliver your elevator speech. Make it clear that you enjoy your work and the results you bring about for customers.

Put the pieces together…

As the answers to these questions unfold, your elevator speech will take shape. Use the language of your target audience to state your value and benefits. Shortcut the process and get right to the results in an enthusiastic and compelling way.

With practice, your elevator speech will flow naturally, become part of your personal brand, and help you make the most of every opportunity to make a good first impression.

Lorraine Howell, Author, Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift!
Media Skills Training

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