Think of an elevator speech as a 30-second explanation to a complete stranger of what you do (or what you would do amazingly well if given the opportunity) in language that’s clear, concise, and conversational. It’s an essential part of your professional brand, and yet often it’s one of the toughest things to come up with.
Based on the idea that you’re in an elevator with someone who asks you what you do and you’ve got the length of the elevator ride to dazzle them (or at least pique their interest), your elevator speech should focus not so much on what you do, but on the benefits of what you do for your employer, customers, patients, or perhaps clients.
Putting Together a Great Elevator Speech
As noted, you want your elevator speech to explain not just what you do, but also the benefits those skills provide. So, for example, your elevator speech may start out with a statement similar to one of these:
Notice how each of these statements “positions” you to your fellow elevator rider: you’ve expressed enthusiasm for what you do, you’ve indicated that you’re an engaged professional, and you’ve demonstrated that you’re sufficiently confident to be able to talk to a stranger.
In addition, each one of these statements gives your companion an opening to ask you more about what you do. It’s almost as if you’re providing the opening line of an interesting story. If you’ve expressed enthusiasm for your work (or potential work), people are likely to want to hear more, which gives you an opportunity to talk a bit more about your career and/or career aspirations (with the goal of demonstrating your value and contribution). If asked, you can give an example of something your skills enabled you to do that you’re really proud of, or think especially interesting.
Always Reciprocate – Ask Them What They Do!
This is the element of an elevator speech that people often fail to mention: always reciprocate! With genuine interest, ask them to tell you about their work or career.
This provides you with two benefits: 1) you don’t come across as a self-absorbed, boring jerk, and 2) it tells you whether this conversation might develop into a valuable professional connection for one or both of you.
Perhaps the Best Payoff of a Good Elevator Speech….
And just in case you’re wondering if working on a killer elevator speech is really worth the effort, keep in mind the other really important benefit you get from this: your folks/spouse/in-laws/kids will now have something they can tell people when asked what you’re up to!
About the Author:
Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.