A Six-Step Guide to Writing an Effective Elevator Talk

When you have a polished, well-practiced “elevator talk,” you can easily introduce your practice to potential clients, nominators and referrals in any situation. After all, you never know if you’re talking to that one person who might be able to help take your practice to the next level. Using a short but well-planned elevator talk is an effective way to present your unique value proposition to people in an engaging way.

The idea of an elevator talk is to generate interest and open the door for you to schedule time to meet again and learn more about your prospect — or at least get permission to stay in touch. To be effective, your elevator talk should be about 30 seconds, and definitely no longer than 60 seconds—the equivalent of a short ride with someone in an elevator.

So how do you come up with this effective kind of talk? Follow these six steps to construct an elevator speech that grabs the attention of your prospects in just a few words.

Step 1: Write down what you do

Take a moment to write down what you do in several different ways. Try to come up with at least 10 different versions. Don’t edit yourself at all; that comes later. This first step is for brainstorming ideas, so don’t hold back. Ideas can be goofy, serious, wild, funny, or conservative. All that matters is that you get as many ideas as possible down on paper. Imagine that you are riding on an elevator and someone asks you, “So, what do you do?” How would you respond in an engaging, interesting, concise way?

Step 2: Write a brief story

Next, write a very short story that illustrates what you do for people and the problems you solve. It must be told with enthusiasm and hold the prospect’s attention, so you want to paint a picture with words. The story should include what do you do that is different or that will resonate with your prospect and explain the advantages of working with you in a creative way.

Step 3: Define your objective or goal

Is your goal to make an appointment, agree to have a cup of coffee, gain a new prospect, enlist support for an idea, earn a referral, invite someone to a seminar, or something else? You must have a purpose. With this purpose or goal in mind, write down at least 10 action statementsEach statement or question should be designed to spur an action associated with your goal.

Step 4: Develop an exceptional opening statement or question

You have only seconds to capture a prospect’s attention. With the information, you have already compiled, come up with an opening statement or question. What can you say that will prompt someone to ask for more information? Here are a few examples:

  • “I help people keep their promises. When you get married, you promise to care for your spouse until death do you part. When you have a child, you promise to care and provide for him or her. I deal in promises.”
  • “My practice takes over where Walt Disney left off. I will show you how to make your dreams come true.”
  • “The best part of my job is knowing that I help people take care of each other. Maybe I can do that for you, too. Can we discuss this sometime this week?”

Step 5: Put it all together

There are a few main points to keep in mind as you write your elevator talk:

  1. What do you want your audience to remember most about you?
  2. What’s in it for the prospect?
  3. Does it tell prospects what you do and why they should want to do business with you?

Now, start putting all this information together, and write your speech. Remember, the goal is a 30-second talk and no more than 60 seconds. If you have prospects and markets that are vastly different, you might want to have a unique pitch for each.

  • Take a moment to go through your different statements on what you do. Pick the best ones to include in your talk.
  • Review your story, goals, objectives, and action items; cut out all of the jargon and unnecessary words and details.
  • Using the remaining details, write strong, short, and powerful sentences that flow naturally and smoothly.
  • End your talk with a clear call to action or request to follow up.

Step 6: Practice and deliver your talk

You want to make sure you are ready when the time comes to deliver your speech. Here are a few tips to make sure you are effectively conveying your unique value:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Role-play your talk with family, friends, and teammates, or practice while looking in the mirror.
  • Take a moment to learn more about people who hear your elevator talk; by asking about them and their businesses.
  • End your one-on-one talk with a handshake and a request to follow up.

There is no one perfect elevator talk. You might need to write several different statements that vary according to the type of prospect you are speaking with and the types of problems you can solve for them. You can use these different statements according to the situation.

A solid elevator talk will allow you to distill down to the purest form of exactly who you are and what you offer. This brief 30-second talk not only clarifies you and your practice; it also brings focus to what you do, which can help you set yourself apart from the competition. Craft yours well, and you will enjoy the rewards of doing business with more people.