Make an Impression with Your Elevator Talk

An elevator talk is one of the most important 30-second conversations you will ever have. The short explanation which you give to tell others what you do is commonly referred to as an “elevator talk” because it is meant to capture the interest of your prospect in the amount of time it would take you to take a short elevator ride with someone. This is a follow-up article to my recently published “A Six-Step Guide to Writing an Effective Elevator Talk”.

You have only a short amount of time to persuade a prospect to want to learn more about what you offer. It is important for you to have an elevator talk prepared in advance, so you will be ready to make an impression on a prospect at any time and in any place, even in an elevator. Here are seven tips for making the best impression with your elevator talk.

1. Keep It Short

Did you realize that the average person has only a 30-second attention span? After that, their mind starts wandering. You can see the challenge; you only have a short time to make a powerful first impression. The key is to make sure that you have a clear, brief message—essentially a commercial about you. Your elevator talk should never be more than 60 seconds, which equates to about 90 to 180 words. You need to gain the prospect’s attention quickly or lose them forever.

2. Tell a Story

Always start your talk by getting your prospect’s attention with a statement or question that piques their interest. In other words, hook them into wanting to hear more. Most elevator talks also tell a brief story. A good story could be someone with a problem who either finds a solution or faces obstacles. Here you want to illustrate that what you do can help people and their situations.

Here is an example of an elevator pitch with a compelling hook and interesting story which was recently shared with me.

“I have an unusual business in a not-so-unusual industry. Every day, I get the opportunity to meet with people who have chosen to protect the financial future of the people they love or their own retirement, and, unfortunately, sometimes those who have not. The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I help people avoid common mistakes while improving the quality of their future. Let’s find a time to have a cup of coffee together so I can explain what I do and learn more about you.

3. Be Relatable and Memorable

Don’t talk at your prospects; talk with them. No one is interested in a speech, but many people are willing to get to know you and what is important to you.

You also need to be clear. Use language that everyone can understand. Avoid using fancy words or industry jargon – thinking it will make you sound smarter. If you do, your prospects will likely lose interest, and you will miss your opportunity to engage them. It is important not only to capture the attention of the people you are speaking to but also to gauge how interested they are in the conversation. If they seem interested in why you asked them the question you did, you can tailor your message to their interest level.

When the content of your talk is relatable and memorable, your prospect is more likely to want more information.

4. Convey Your Value

Your elevator talk should give your prospect a sense of your value. Include scenarios that evoke sympathy or empathy that they could picture themselves experiencing. This is not a sales pitch or a brag fest. You want to show prospects the types of problems you can help solve in their lives, not just a summary of what services you provide.

5. Speak with Passion

If you are not excited about what you do and how it affects the lives of others, then why should they be excited? Your talk must contain energy, enthusiasm, and dedication.

Above all, your elevator talk needs to excite you first of all. The bottom line, is if your not excited about what you are saying, then either will be your audience. If you are not smiling and getting more and more excited, then ask yourself how boring you are sounding. Remember that they might not be able to recall everything that you say, but they will likely remember your enthusiasm.

6. End with a Request

Design your elevator talk with a specific outcome in mind. Always end your talk with a call to action. You must decide upon the desired result of my talk. You might want to write different talks to apply to different types of prospects or situations. For example, do you want to begin a new relationship, set up a meeting, grab a cup of coffee, gain a new prospect, enlist a new nominator or get a referral?

7. Practice Your Talk

Once you have written your elevator talk, practice it until it sounds natural and you can repeat it without thinking. It needs to slide off your tongue naturally. Say it out loud and record it. Perform as many dress rehearsals as possible in front of colleagues, friends, and family members, and get their honest feedback. Remember your communication is more than just words, it’s also what your body language is conveying. So, it’s critically important to pay close attention to your body language and not just to memorize words.

Always be listening for new phrases that you think could make your elevator talk clearer and more impactful. As your practice changes over time, you will want to update your talk or do a total overhaul.

If you can give a compelling and intriguing introduction to what you do, you are on the right track to finding more prospects who will want to continue the conversation about what you can offer.