Step into an elevator (or lift as the English like to call them) and chances are you’ll hear piped-in music designed to soothe and relax, though repeated renditions of Fur Elise can prove to do just the opposite. What you’ll rarely find are animated conversations between complete strangers, which is why it’s ironic that an elevator speech has been given this particular name.
An elevator speech introduces you in the short span of an elevator ride. The theory behind this is that the introduction you make to a stranger, and potential client, needs to be short and concise, and an elevator ride is simply the best example of the time one should spend delivering this kind of speech.
What it is
An elevator pitch should give your audience immediate knowledge of who you are and what you do so that they don’t get off at the next floor, but rather hit the stop button to hear more about what you have to say.
Ideally, you would memorize not one but several variations of your speech, so that depending on the situation you are ready to launch into it at a moment’s notice. This comes from carefully crafting what you have to say and practicing it in front of a few people, preferably not family and friends who would applaud you anyway.
The one place you probably won’t use speech this is in an elevator, but being prepared allows you to meet people under various circumstances and capitalize on the moment; something we often fail to take advantage of because we’re unsure of what to say. So if a person asks you what you do, rather than say “I’m a freelance writer/editor,” you can launch straight into your short yet captivating speech.
Obviously, the more you practice your speech, the better it will get. You can weed out any weaknesses and hone it to perfection. And always be prepared to modify it as your business expands and your areas of expertise widen.
How to write it
Don’t worry about implementing all the elevator speech tips you find. Begin by finding a core message. This is what you’ll work everything around. Once you’ve figured out what your message is, such as “health and wellness writer” or “corporate communications consultant” or “ezine specialist,” you can build your speech around it using this formula:
- Introduce yourself.
- State your type of business (freelance writer, novelist, editor, etc.).
- Describe your niche client (small business owners, online web owners, dental associations and dentists, etc.).
- Explain how you differ from the rest? What is your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP)?
- Includes the above mentioned points.
- Is not a hard sales pitch.
- Is concise and on track: a 30-second elevator speech is ideal, but definitely shoot for under 60 seconds.
- Is memorable, leaving your audience with something valuable to take away from your conversation.
- Has a hook to entice your listeners to hear more.
- Needs to be practiced so your delivery doesn’t sound forced.
- Feels friendly and enthusiastic, and sincere.
- Must be delivered slowly, so it doesn’t sound rehearsed.
- Breath, pause, and smile where appropriate.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Speak clearly, even when nervous.
- Act confidently, no matter the circumstances.
- Stop, if you feel you’ve lost audience interest.
While those of us in the writing business can be very confident when it comes to writing complicated documents, we can be equally nervous when it comes to talking. The words that flow out of our minds and onto our computer screen seem to dry up when faced with an opportunity to brag about our skills.
If this is the case, a public speaking class might help. Once such organization is the Toastmasters, with chapters in most large cities and towns. Another excellent public speaking site to browse is Art of Great Speaking, which offers plenty of tips and hints to get you started.
And once you’ve got your speech down pat and have begun practicing it on potential clients, don’t forget to ask for their business in the end. You could do this by exchanging cards, offering to do a full presentation, or asking for a referral. Everything about an elevator speech has to be subtle, without losing sight of the end game: to get more clients and expand your business.