By Jennifer Henczel
Say that you meet someone in the hallway at a business conference and they ask you what you do. What will you say? They don’t want to hear a 15 minute speech on your business. They don’t even want to hear more than a couple minutes. Everyone needs to have a 20 second speech prepared that explains exactly what their business is all about and why people should even listen to them. This is commonly referred to as an “elevator speech” since you should be able to say it in the space of a short elevator ride. Generating initial interest in the mind of your prospect will lead to deeper discussion when more time permits, say over coffee.
At FVBN, we use our elevator speech to quickly let everyone in the room know what we do. Everyone—including YOU--gets a turn to talk about their business for 20 seconds. You need to maximize that time as best you can to draw interest from the group. When your offerings peak someone’s interest, they will seek you out during the networking time to find out more.
Here are the main steps for creating and refining your elevator speech:
1. Outline your USP
What are the key points of your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What's different about you compared to your competitors? Write these down in a simple bullet point format. Then cut out irrelevant words and explanations. Pare your USP down to the bare minimum, the most basic essence of what you are offering people.
2. Write your problem/solution statement
Now put your USP description into one sentence. It helps to put it in terms of a solution to a problem, since this is the most important part of anything you are selling. It’s why people buy. For example,”I provide ready-made solutions for people that don't have time to write or just hate it”. This doesn’t tell someone exactly what you do, but it intrigues them enough to want to learn more.
3. Write your features/benefits statement
Now write another sentence that explains the key points of how you deliver your solution. Your statement should be a very brief summary of the key features and benefits of what you are selling. For example, “By writing the articles for them, I free up their time to focus on other parts of their business”. This isn’t a sales pitch, which would just turn off someone that you met in an elevator. It’s a summary of why your solution actually works. It shouldn’t give a person all the details of your business. Instead, it should create an opening for more questions from the other person. In other words, it’s a way to get a discussion going.
4. Put it all together
Now that you’ve written the basics of your elevator speech, it’s time to put it all together. Practice saying it out loud and add other details to make your speech sound natural. Try it out on someone else and get their feedback and reaction. Don’t forget to time yourself to make sure your “little” speech doesn’t take more than about a minute. Finally, take the time revise and revisit your elevator speech frequently, especially as your business changes.
Creating your own individual elevator speech is far more important than most people realize. You never know when you will meet someone that can be a help to you in your business, or who is a potential customer. This is the one liner you can use with friends who have no idea what you do or with business colleagues you meet at a conference "in the elevator". It is your ticket to opening the door to a new, and potentially profitable relationship.
Remember, if you take longer than 20 seconds, then you are stealing networking time from others. Focus on only 1 item per 20 second speech. If you have an event or other item to promote, mention it briefly after introducing your business, and your entire presentation must still only take 20 seconds. Members can attend early and distribute information at each place setting. You can refer to these materials during your 20 second speech to save time. If you want to do this, please get authorization for your materials first from the Group Manager before distributing them.
Click here to get Craig's 28-page tips booklet on elevator speeches
Below are sample Elevator Speeches from many walks of life. You are welcome to print these to use as guides in developing your own. Do not copy these verbatim. You're far better served by creating your own and incorporating your own uniqueness and style of expression.
For more instruction on crafting your own 16-second soundbite, send for my Elevator Speech booklet. For $10 this booklet can help elevate you to the top!
For A Lawyer for Non-Profits
“I'm saving the people who are saving the world! (she pauses and smiles.)
I'm Alice Andrson, a lawyer for non-profits. My company, Anderson NonProfit Strategies, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializes in helping non-profits keep their fund-raising legal. For more information e-mail me: alice@anpslaw.”
For A Web Designer
“I am a Techno Shock Therapist (pause for laughs).
My name is Andy Ebon, founder of EBS Virtual Communications. I help my clients with their internet marketing and promotion needs through web development, web site promotion and helping them incorporate their eMarketing with their overall marketing plan. Tell me about your current website?”
For The Self-Employed
“Hi, I teach people how manners make money & politeness promotes profits in the market place. I teach etiquette to youth and adults. I'm Carolyn Millet, and it's my pleasure to meet you!”
For A Project Manager
“I translate the Tower of techno-Babble. I'm Paul Coker.
Some companies call my job project management or technical team leading. I help teams reach their goal better/faster/cheaper by welding radically different perspectives into a single team effort, avoiding wasted or dead-end efforts. Do you know of any companies that might need that kind of leader for a team of tech specialists?”
“I turn conflict into agreement. I'm Robbie Gordon of the Conflict Resolution Institute. My workshops & coaching reduce your conflict. We teach people how to understand, discuss and resolve conflict so they can live happier lives. Let us replace the conflict in your life.”
For A User Interface Designer
“Hi. I'm Ed Swiss, and I connect people to computers. I create simple, effective user interfaces that make it easier for people to do their jobs. Would you like me to simplify your workplace?”
For A Computer Consultant
“When it comes to data having an overbyte is good! I'm Dan Singleton, principal of Singleton Consulting Inc. Our appetite for bits and bytes is exceeded only by our capacity to digest your data! Our favorite flavor is COBOL! Call us, we're hungry for your business.”
“I'm the Fred Flinstone of the construction industry. I install computer systems for the gravel industry. I'm Stephen Beard, project manager extraordinaire.”
For A Management Consultant
“I keep your company out of Dilbert's comic strip! I'm Alyson Abrams, a Silicon Valley management consultant specializing in change. If your company is experiencing rapid growth or change I can offer experience and wisdom to keep your employees happy and your profits in the black.”
For An Insurance Company
“Settlement Alternatives provides turnkey solutions to all your insurance needs! Our website, workbooks and presentations each provide information, guidance, options and alternatives to help you resolve your insurance woes. Success is a click away...SettlementAlternatives.com!”
For An Insurance Agent
“I'm a money man with a plan: I make sure the money keeps flowing when your income stops. (pause) Somewhere along the line, for one reason or another, you will no longer be working. My plans insure that individuals and their families are prepared for that day; when it comes.(another pause) Let's review your plan to make sure the money flows unabated. I'm Mark Eckhout with MML Investors Services.”
“My firm takes over where Walt Disney left off. I'm Chal Daniels, and I will show you how to make your dreams come true. What is something you have always dreamt of doing? (Pauses and listens intently.) I can help you make your wish come true. Here is my card, call me, I'd love to work with you. I give you my assurance our insurance can help you dream big dreams.”
For A Civil Engineer:
“Hi I'm Arnold Karman...I harness the forces of mother nature and put them to work for you. I'm a civil engineer specializing in building bridges, roads and other thoroughfares. We help you get where you're going safely and expediently!”
For A Software Engineer:
“I crunch bits and bytes for breakfast. I'm a software engineer who designs applications that don't go snap, crackle or pop. I'm Tony “the Tiger” Pistoli.”
For Another Software Engineer:
“I'm the Claude Monet of Software. I'm Henri Pierre. My masterpieces are written with zeros and ones! I write clean code and elegant programs which come in on time and under budget. My artistry is yours, call me.”
For A Hardware engineer:
“Some think beyond the box. My brilliance is within the box. Im Sarah Barnes, a hardware engineer. I design computer architecture for maximum efficiency, creating robust systems.”
For A Process Engineer:
“They call me Mr. Chips. I manage process engineers in the commission of ultra-fast microchips. My rooms are super clean, my employees detail oriented and my teams are well coordinated. I'm Trun Nguyen.”
For A Toastmaster:
“Hi I'm Cassandra Cockrill…an evangelist for better thinking, better speaking, and better listening. I help thousands of people each year to be sure that they communicate more confidently and competently than ever before. I do it through Toastmasters. What about you, are you interested in better communication?”
For A Financial Consultant:
“Hi, I'm Charles Riviera. I help my customers by putting them in touch with money! I'm a financial resource consultant based in Miami.”
“I manage dead presidents! I am a money manager who helps people reduce their taxes (and my hands are pushing downward as I say this), and increase their savings and investment returns (now my hands are palms up, raising up to my shoulders). How can I help you?”
For A Customer Service Representative:
“I have a calling. I am a customer satisfaction representative who calls customers to insure they're satisfied. “Yes” is my favorite word. What's yours?”
For A Credit Agent:
“I'm Bill Lovvett. I give credit where credit is due. I'm a commercial credit agent. Wouldn't you like some credit too?” (smiles!)
For Self-Storage Facility Managers:
“We can help you think inside the box. We're self-storage experts providing you with space to store your commercial or personal property. I'm Craig Harrison, manager of YOUR COMPANY STORE in Denver. Could you benefit from off-site property storage?”
“I tell people where to put it! (smile and pause) I'm Bob Arnold, manager of STORE YOU here in Tampa. If you've got 'stuff' we've got your storage space. As a full service storage site we offer a variety of ways to store you! Won't you come see how our store is your store?”
“We're your attic without cobwebs and your basement without termites. We're MORE STORE, your self-storage specialists. With four metropolitan locations to choose from, we offer a variety of self-storage units to solve your storage problems. Our storage options make your life easier and your own space less cluttered. Let us help you store and save.”
“We're the NASA of inner space. We provide storage space here on earth for all your worldly possessions. We're STORAGE SPACE SPECIALISTS. Houston, we've got a property!”
“Our space gives you breathing space. We're ROOM-FOR-GROWTH STORAGE INCORPORATED, a self-storage business catering to residential clients. Using our space liberates your place. (pause for rhyme to sink in.) We're here to help.”