The Art of the Elevator Speech

by Channon C.

Elevator Speech

Today I read in a LexisNexis brief, “Psychologists, writers and seminar leaders caution before a minute is up – usually seven to 17 seconds – strangers, and that includes clients, form an opinion of us.”

Seventeen seconds. That’s it.

So, what do most of us do in those 17 seconds? I imagine there are many of these types of exchanges:

Employee enters the elevator with prestigious VP of some growing, new department. Of course, the employee has never actually spoken to the ‘up and coming’ director, despite likely each knowing vaguely who the other is.

In an effort to strike up conversation, the director casually asks, “So, what are you working on these days?”

Thinking fast, the employee responds back, “Oh. Same old stuff, but at least it’s a job, right?”

It’s easy to forget the power of first impressions, not only when networking externally, but definitely internally in our own organizations. First impressions gain you the right to advance in the relationship, and nothing paves the way for future conversations like a well delivered elevator speech.

Elevator speeches are quick – two to three sentences at the most – introductions to a product, service or project. They should open a conversation, they should be unique and genuine and they should quickly give someone a sense of who you are and what you do.

Skilled networkers and communicators keep a minimum of two elevator speeches at the ready for new introductions and depending on the situation. They also take the time to update and change their elevator speeches to ensure it is current.

Powerful elevator speeches convey the following:

  • Succinct and direct message about who you are and what you do.
  • Enthusiasm over what you’re saying.
  • Confidence in yourself and interest in the other person, regardless of whether you are meeting in person or virtually – like on a conference call.

The elevator speech is not technically complicated, it shouldn’t take hours to sit down, think, and jot down a few possibilities. What it does take is practice. Practice to yourself when driving to the office one morning or when getting ready for a potential networking event. Practice saying it to friends and ask for feedback. Practice enough so that when the opportunity presents itself, your personal introduction rolls easily off the tongue and comes across professionally, confidently and engagingly.

How well do you sell yourself in 17 seconds?


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