The Elevator Speech: It comes from the idea that one day you may get on an elevator and surprise! the perfect person to talk to gets on with you. You have about thirty seconds to tell them who you are and in a real sense, sell yourself.
More than that. Your elevator speech will serve you in networking, in introducing yourself in interview situations, in many ways throughout the job search process and beyond. It is an identifier and an opportunity to present yourself in a positive way that will stand out from the crowd and be memorable in the hearer’s mind.
It pays to spend time putting together the pieces of a good 20-30 second self-introduction. We will look at the elements in a minute, but first let me share what I have written for myself so you can have an example.
I am a storyteller: a writer, speaker, preacher and teacher interested in finding ways to market my words to the largest possible audience. I have a degree from Drew University in religion and writing and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Seminary where I studied speech, preaching and telling the Biblical story. I have written for numerous internal church publications, edited several newsletters, created liturgies and curriculums for new members, church officers and Sunday study. I have told stories in pulpits and public forums from Pennsylvania to Georgia. My objective is to write and publish my fiction and non-fiction, pen a weekly newspaper column, produce studies on small groups, discipleship, exercising values and drawing closer to God and to teach on these life-changing issues.
5 sentences. That is enough Let’s look at it.
There are three parts to a good elevator speech. 1. The mission statement which is the “I am.” 2. The positioning statement which is the accomplishments: experience, background, relevant to the task information. And 3. The objective which is the “This is where I am going.” Statement (what I am searching for).
1. The mission statement with a tag line or hook:
I am a storyteller. You need a hook. They say you have 30 seconds, but in reality you have about 5 seconds to spark interest or you will lose them. You go to a networking event and say, “I’m an IT specialist” or “I’m a travel agent” and they will suddenly remember another appointment. If you say, “I’m a retail store manager,” they will go unconscious. So are hundreds of thousands of others.
Instead, think about “I’m an IT problem solver” (or for a consultant, something more maverick like “I’m an IT troubleshooter”). Instead of travel agent, how about “dream maker” (making dreams come true). Instead of retail manager, consider retail money maker. Okay, that will interest anyone in the business who might be looking. Then for best effect, follow up with a concrete, quantifiable example, like “I’m a retail money maker and turnaround specialist. I took an Eckerd Pharmacy slated to close and made a quarter million in EBIT in my first full year.”
The first problem with my example above is no quantifiable, concrete examples of success.
2. The positioning statement (s).
Altogether, the first sentence, beginning with a hook is your mission statement. Then comes your positioning statement. I am trained, experienced and have done this sort of work – and I am good at it. Quantify. But no more than 2-3 sentences. Show what value you bring to the table. We say that in the writing business: show, don’t tell.
The second problem with my example above is the positioning statements are too general. It does not say whether I did these things well or not. It does not express these accomplishments in terms of the value I bring to the company or situation. This is essentially due to the first problem: lack of concrete, verifiable success statements.
3. The objective
The last sentence should be a foregone conclusion based on what came before. It should be no surprise. It should also focus on one point. It should be THE point. Like: I am a retail money maker – a turnaround specialist. I took an Eckerd Pharmacy slated to close and made a quarter million in EBIT in my first full year. In fact, I have done that in several businesses throughout my career. I sure would like a chance to do that again. There is only one factoid here. You can say a bit more than that if it is quantifiable.
The third problem with my statement above is it peters off into several options. There is author, journalist, curriculum writer and teacher, and while they may all be desired and they may all be valid options, the hearer is left with uncertainty. What does this person really want to do?
Obviously, the speech needs to be tailored depending on who I am talking to: agent, newspaper or magazine editor, Christian publisher, community college. There are concrete examples to give for each person as well – to replace the rather vague center. And you thought it was a pretty good elevator speech? It can always be better.
Here is the key: Your elevator speech should be about them, or at least directed to them (whoever you are talking to and reaching out to) and specifically about the value you bring to the table. That usually is about making them $ or saving them $. So give it a try…