They are called elevator speeches and are intended to prepare you for very brief, chance encounters in an elevator. But elevator speeches are not just for elevators!
An elevator speech is a short, 15-30 second, aproximately150 word sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces you. It spotlights your uniqueness as well as focuses on the benefits you provide. This is something that should be delivered effortlessly. And it is an excellent way to market yourself.
So, who better than you to describe with passion, precision and persuasiveness what you do? A great elevator speech makes a lasting first impression, showcases what you do and allows you to position yourself for meeting new potential clients.
When I first started joining networking groups, I laughed to myself when they said that part of the benefit of joining as a member would be that each week I would get 30 seconds to make a presentation. 30 seconds? Big whoopee! What in the world could anyone convey in a mere 30 seconds?
After attending a few of these meetings, I quickly learned that as sales people it is vital to be able to make your point in concise terms and quickly. People judge a person on first impressions. Therefore, it only takes a few words for someone to form an impression.
Often during an introduction there is only time for a few words so they better be the right ones. People nowadays are busier than ever and because of this they tend to have shorter attention spans.
Think about radio and television advertisements, which are typically from 30 to 60 seconds. Advertisers pay top money for these spots so it is essential to get across the right message. It must be short, succinct and get exactly to your marketing point.
At my first networking meeting it never dawned on me to prepare anything…after all it is only 30 seconds and certainly thought I knew my stuff. Boy was I wrong! Going around the table, one by one, members were delivering these powerful little 30 second presentations. As it was getting closer to my time, nerves took over when I realized that I should have prepared something. When I stood up, I stuttered out something like “Hi, I’m Anita and I sell cruises and vacations.” PERIOD! My mind totally blanked out and I couldn’t think of another thing to say...I sat down horrified.
I was never going to let this happen again so I went home and worked on it. My little 30 second speech took hours to create. Who knew it would take so much effort? I wrote and rewrote it until I had the message I felt I wanted to get across.
Your elevator speech must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice in front of the mirror and with friends. Record it on your answering machine, and listen to it. I rehearsed mine until I knew it by heart. I taped it to my steering wheel in the car and on my way to the meeting I said it over and over. At first I felt silly so when I would come to a stop sign I would put my cell phone up to my ear so people didn’t think I was talking to myself.
First, and most important, think in terms of the benefits your clients or customers derive from your services. Think about what you want to portray. Are you a destination specialist? What destination? Are you a “travel agent” or are you a “cruise and vacation planner”? It’s a subtle difference but unless you want to be constantly asked during an introduction how much it costs to fly from Cleveland to Chicago, I suggest you don’t say you are a travel agent. Wouldn’t you rather put the thought of a vacation or cruise into their mindset of what you can do for them?
First, write down the special extra services that you provide. Then, think in terms of the benefits that your clients could derive from these services. Once you’ve got that written, create an opening sentence that will grab the listener’s attention. The best openers leave the listener wanting more information.
Do you sound confident? Sincere? Is it engaging? If not, keep tweaking until you are clear on what you want to say.
Here’s one version of how I improved my speech from the first time I delivered it:
"Hi, I’m Anita Pagliasso and I have been a cruise and vacation specialist since 1992. I love planning trips of a lifetime for all of my clients. In fact, last year I saved most of my clients money over the internet pricing while also providing them special VIP service, throughout the planning process to their welcome home. I also gave them with the assurance that should anything go wrong during their travel I would be available at all times to assist them. If you enjoy traveling I would love to give you my business card.”
Now, you’ve got their attention!
Hint: Have your business cards handy at all times so that you don’t have to dig or fumble looking for them. I also wear my “networking suits” to business events that have pockets where I can keep a stash of cards ready for a “quick draw” at any time.
Remember, these quick effective 30 second spiels are not only great for networking events, they can also be used at PTA meetings, business functions, fund raisers, in line at the movies, getting your morning latte and almost anywhere you are likely to meet new people, even in an elevator!