Recently I taught a class on presenting yourself and crafting your elevator speech to a group of immigrant and refugee women taking an entrepreneurial training course through Empowered Women International, where I am a Board member. EWI is an amazing and inspiring organization which works with these immigrants to help them channel their artistic and creative abilities into viable, sustainable businesses and in the process, empowers them to be self-sufficient, develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills and integrate into American society. [For more information about EWI's innovative work and how you can help, click here.]
Whether working with immigrant women or professional businesswomen, most are reluctant and shy to talk about themselves or articulate what they do. It's partly the typical fear of speaking in public but equally, it's a lack of knowing what to say and how to say it appropriately. Enter the elevator speech, so named because this speech should be short, focused and clear enough that you can deliver it to someone getting on an elevator on one floor and getting off at the next. Crafting the perfect elevator speech is not an easy task, but it is critical to presenting yourself and your accomplishments in the best light.
THE PERFECT ELEVATOR SPEECH
The elevator speech is your answer to the question "what do you do?" and the objective of your elevator speech is to get the person you're speaking with to ask..."tell me more."
- Have a couple versions of your elevator speech. The basic one should be about 30-45 seconds; then develop a longer 2-3 minute version.
- Grab attention by using metaphors and vivid word pictures in your introductory sentence. ["I save lives" instead of "I'm a doctor"].
- Describe what benefits people get from working with you instead of outlining product/service features.
- Convey passion about what you do.
- Include a brief description of a problem or issue you're solving in your job or for your clients.
- Be easily understandable. Don't use jargon or corporate-speak.
- Appear interested in and focused on the listener.
- Watch your body language. Make eye contact and smile.
- Practice, practice and then practice some more [2-3 times a week] so that you sound completely conversational.
- Be comfortable and familiar enough with your elevator speech that you can give it at a moment's notice, without hesitation, when someone asks, "What do you do?"
- Be memorable!
The sign of a truly well-crafted and delivered elevator speech may just be that your fellow elevator passenger will ride on for a few more floors.
flickr/Steve Cherches C.C. 2.0