Practice, Practice, Practice

When was the last time you practiced on your elevator speech? What happened the last time you actually put it to use?

If you’re staring blankly at the screen right now, wondering what an elevator speech is and why in the world you would ever possibly need one, here’s a crash course.

Imagine stepping onto an elevator and finding yourself next to Donald Trump. You recently heard that The Donald has been looking to invest in a few tech start-ups and wouldn’t you know it, you’ve got an amazing tech idea in desperate need of some start-up cash to get off the ground. At best you’ve got a couple of minutes in that elevator to pitch your idea and pique Mr. Trump’s interest (or better yet, open his wallet for it!) Elevator’s move pretty fast these days, and realistically you might have only 30 seconds!

So what are you going to do with those few precious seconds with a billionaire, someone who’s endorsement could literally change your life?

Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready

Always be prepared for unexpected opportunities! You should have your perfect elevator speech memorized, but not rehearsed to the point that it sounds rehearsed. In fact, it should sound nothing like a speech or sales pitch. It should sound casual, as though you were chatting with a friend, and serve as a door-opener to a bigger conversation. It may not be a formal presentation, but you still to speak with confidence and authority.

And for goodness sakes, don’t ramble. The more you can say in the least amount of words the better. Remember, you may have only a few seconds to capture a person’s interest before they turn their attention elsewhere, and you need to make those seconds count! Sure, you can tell people about what you do, but more importantly you need to tell them what you can do for them.

Be a Verbal Business Card

Your elevator speech is a quick snapshot of why someone should take interest in your product or service. It’s actually much better than a business card, which really only provides a name and contact information. For that reason, you want to be concise and to-the-point. Skip the flowery adjectives—that’s a sales tactic (and you’re not trying to “sell,” remember?) That’s not to say you shouldn’t be or can’t be creative. If you expect your brief moment with this person to be memorable, you definitely need to find a unique way to set yourself apart from the others in your field, so choose your words carefully. Be truthful, and be authentic, but say something they won’t forget!

Quantify Your Results

It’s fine and dandy that you have “years of experience,” but it really doesn’t matter how long you’ve been “in the biz” if you can’t get results, so qualify your experience with solid stats. What are your accomplishments? If you’ve been recognized in your industry for stellar performance, that’s worth mentioning—as long as it would be a valuable asset to your prospect. Your first-place finish in the hot dog eating contest at the company picnic two years ago probably means nothing to Donald Trump. But the fact that you took over a struggling start-up company, on the verge of bankruptcy, and turned it around to become a highly profitable business in the course of two years is certainly worthy of mention.

A solid elevator speech is one of the most significant communications tools you can have in your repertoire, so get busy and spend time researching and designing one that will get results. And the next time someone asks you “What do you do?” don’t label yourself with a broad term like “sales associate” or “accountant.” That’s your job title. Tell them instead what it is you actually do, and more importantly tell them what you can do for them.


  1. Jenny Martine says:

    The elevator speech really scares me! You have 20-30 seconds to pitch an idea to someone who can fund it… You have to be at the peak of your game to do it! I think I couldn’t even open my mouth. A lot of practice would be needed to get this done, hundreds of hours.

  2. Oliver Jameson says:

    What do you do when you don’t have any results to talk about yet? What do you talk about? I guess I could talk about the most important things my product will fix and try to get his attention on how much money he stands to make. I’m going to use the elevator speech on someone important and I need to figure out what to say.

  3. Mike Lang says:

    I’ve had an elevator speech prepared for years and have never really looked at it again. Don’t know if I could even say it now. Thanks for the reminder…I need to get it out and brush up a bit. You just never know.

  4. Great read. I always knew you needed an elevator pitch but I rarely practiced it. This was very helpful…

  5. Britanica says:

    These are tough! I have never been able to make a short 20 second pitch on the spot but if you can master this skill, I know it pays off heavily. Great tips and advice right here. I am going to put it to practice and give it a shot. Doesn’t hurt to practice on strangers either! 

  6. Wendy Wilson says:

    Still struggling with mine. Elevator pitches are the worst!

  7. Sam Anson says:

    No matter how far advanced we become with technology, nothing will ever replace the elevator pitch.

  8. L. Lincoln says:

    I can’t even remember the last time I even thought about my elevator speech. I think it’s time for a refresher.

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