You’ve heard of Elevator Speeches – those short ‘blurbs’ we offer when someone says, “What do you do for a living?” The online version is the words we place inside our website’s header. It should be short enough that if you were on an elevator with someone, you could spit it out before the doors open.
It should be meaningful enough that your listener hears and understands what you’re saying. And it should be intriguing enough that they want to know more. And that, as you know, is a tall order for something that lasts under 30 seconds.
Regardless if you’re sales prospecting, speaking, asking for money or simply networking, your audience makes up its mind about you in the first few minutes.
And because the time allotted to give an Elevator Speech is short, and you’ve got to grab your prospect’s attention fast, every word counts. That’s why I’ve compiled the top 9 tips to make your Elevator Speech rock. You pick and choose which of these tips is right for you:
1. Don’t overload it with information. Instead, stick to 3 main points: What, why and how.
The “What” of your Elevator Speech explains what you do in basic terms. Don’t get fancy here and don’t use technical terms. Saying, “We are a software company” works. Giving a 2-minute dissertation on baseband cross-platform scalable default configuration doesn’t. (BTW, I have no idea what I just said there.)
The “Why” of your Elevator Speech explains why you exist. What problem do you solve? What bad thing do you prevent or what good thing do you make possible? “We send kids to college who otherwise couldn’t go” works. “We make widgets because we love making widgets” doesn’t.
The “How” of your Elevator Speech is how you do what you do. Simple, right? How do you send kids to college who otherwise couldn’t go? By matching them with grants, loan programs, and affordable colleges.
Here’s the ultimate test: If you gave your elevator speech to someone over 70 and someone else under 12, would they understand it? If not, try again.
Here is Guy Kawasaki’s elevator speech for his Alltop website – and while it’s a little longer than I would prefer, it definitely hits the mark: [Alltop] is a website where we aggregate news for all the topics. Think of it as an “online magazine rack.” We enable you to find the most relevant and recent news instead of the 30,000,000 matches that Google shows you. We do this by aggregating all the best news sources onto one page and displaying the five most recent stories from each one.
2. Open your Elevator Speech with the name of your company and follow it with your products and services you provide. Don’t speak in generalizations – this is your chance to show how different you are. Assume your listener doesn’t know your area of business, so don’t use jargon and acronyms.
Next, outline why your product is needed and what problems it solves. This makes your business real to your listener and shows how it makes life easier or more productive for your customers. Practice your speech over and over again, and deliver it with confidence and enthusiasm.
3. To make your pitch persuasive, you’ll want to be clear, credible and compelling.
We’ve already covered being clear – if the average person who isn’t in your industry can easily understand what you’re saying, then you’re on the right track.
So how can you add to your credibility? It’s not by comparing your business to someone else’s – it’s by telling what your business has accomplished. Even if it’s that you’ve signed your first 2 clients or you’ve held your first class, state your achievements rather than trying to tear down any perceived competition.
To be compelling, your solution should represent a dramatic improvement in your niche. Being a dollar cheaper or 2% faster isn’t enough, but showing a 2x improvement may make anyone sit up and take notice.
4. Don’t talk about yourself – talk about what you accomplish for the customer – how you provide the customer with value, solve the customer’s problem or give the customer opportunities.
5. Anticipate objections and head them off before they happen. Let’s say your company is doing what others have tried and failed at. “Why have all previous attempts to achieve ___ failed? Because they didn’t ____ (What you are doing.)
6. Avoid adjectives and phrases that have been done to death. “Proprietary, revolutionary, next-generation, state-of-the-art, synergistic, etc.” Words like these have been used so often that we no longer believe them.
7. When delivering your elevator speech, keep your body open. Don’t cross your arms, hold your hands in front of or behind you, or do anything that takes up less space. If anything, you want to be more expansive which shows you’re confident in what you say. For example, arms out to the side, or hands-on-hips, or gesturing are all fine.
8. To generate enthusiasm in your listener, all you have to do is show your own passion for your product, service or company.
9. Once you’ve made your Elevator Speech, exchange contact info and follow up with a phone call, email or some kind of communication the next day. Don’t wait – people soon forget.