An elevator speech is a short and compelling introduction of yourself in a professional setting. It succinctly explains who you are, what you’re looking for and what makes you valuable to a company. The speech is usually about 30 seconds long and you can use it to introduce yourself to employers at career fairs, interviews, or even networking events.
Tips for writing an elevator speech
An elevator speech goes beyond a simple introduction. Instead, its aim is to intrigue and grab the attention of whomever you’re speaking to and make them want to know more about you and what you do. For that to happen, ask yourself these three questions:
What’s the goal?
What is the goal of your elevator speech? Are you trying to find a business partner, get a new job, or argue a critical point? Knowing your aim will help you define the tone and structure of your elevator speech.
Who’s your audience?
You should tailor both the language and the content of your elevator speech to your audience. If you’re speaking to a professional in your field, you can use industry buzzwords without worrying whether they’ll understand. Similarly, you might use a different language when talking to a nightclub employee than you would at a white-collar networking event.
What’s your time limit?
Typically, an elevator speech should be no longer than what can be said during a single elevator ride. In practice, this means you should aim for 30 seconds or less. This might sound like a short time to grab someone’s attention, but with the proper structure and content, you can easily do it.
Essential guidelines to writing the perfect elevator speech
1. Start with a hook
Your introduction should go beyond your name and position. Especially if you’re looking to find a job, focus more on your value than on position titles. Start your speech by giving your full name, offering your hand for a handshake, and summarizing what you do. For instance, you might say, “I help C-level executives manage their day-to-day tasks so that they can focus on their business.” Just like that, the person you’re speaking with understands what makes you valuable.
2. Sell your expertise
Now it’s time to give a summary of your experience. Avoid going into too much detail. Your time is limited, so only focus on those aspects of your career relevant to your speech’s goal. This is where tailoring your speech to your audience matters the most. To make it more persuasive, focus on results and unique achievements rather than presenting your daily responsibilities.
3. Explain your goals
This will largely depend on what you want to achieve with your elevator speech. Whether finding a job or maybe just getting contact information from someone in your field, this is the time to bring it up. After summarizing what you have achieved so far, you can swiftly move on to your request. Explain why your background makes you a good fit for the company or why you’d like to work there. Again, you should focus on what you can offer and what the audience could gain from this.
4. End with a call to action
At the end of your elevator speech, make it clear what you want to happen next. You can ask for the next steps or take the initiative and offer to set up a meeting or a call. Try to make this as little work for the other person as possible. If this marks the end of the conversation, make sure to thank them for their time. Either way, offer them a business card or share your contact with them to ensure that you can get in touch quickly.
How to write an elevator speech: the step-by-step process
Step 1: Outline the structure
Write down everything you’d want to mention. This will help you organize the main points of your speech and divide them into the four sections above. Also, the outline will give your speech structure and make it easier to understand.
Step 2: Write the first draft
Based on the main points of your outline, create your first draft. Here, try to expand on the most critical and relevant topics from the outline.
Step 3: Edit and polish
Now, it’s time to tailor the language and structure of your elevator speech to your audience. You can add or remove business jargon, shorten your sentences, and change the tone of your draft to be more compelling to your audience.
Step 4: Read it out loud
This will help you uncover if your speech sounds natural and intelligent or if you need to change up its wording or length. You might find that it sounds too robotic or that you run out of breath on long sentences. If you’re not sure, try to record yourself and listen to the speech.
Step 5: Practice it and refine
Say your speech aloud until you feel comfortable with it and until it doesn’t sound too rehearsed. You should memorize the key points and the wording you want to use but still be able to respond to interruptions or questions without losing the flow of your speech. And remember: practice makes perfect!
What should you avoid when preparing your elevator speech?
Don’t sound too rehearsed
Try to set a conversational tone for your elevator speech. Sounding rehearsed will leave no space for interaction or response from the person you’re talking to and may sound forced.
Avoid long sentences and difficult words
With the little time you have, you want to stay away from wasting it on fancy terms or cliché phrases. And, if you’re not sure who you’ll be speaking with, making your elevator speech easy to understand is crucial.
Don’t use the same speech for all occasions
Of course, you don’t need to completely rewrite your elevator speech for each interview or networking event. But do try to research before each occasion and adapt the content and tone of your speech to the environment you will be in.
Avoid speaking too fast
You might try to fit as much as possible into 30 seconds in hopes of presenting more of your expertise. However, speaking fast can make it hard for others to understand and can cause you to stumble over your words. Instead, focus only on the key points of your experience, and make a conscious effort to speak slowly and clearly.
By following these steps and structure, you can quickly write an elevator speech for any professional situation. Whether in a job interview or a networking event, a good elevator speech can leave a lasting impression on whomever you’re speaking with and open doors to many more career opportunities. So, get started on your first draft, and soon you’ll be able to wow your audience with a confident, value-packed elevator speech.