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Going Up: How to Elevate Your Elevator Speech

elevator door

Business opportunities can extend far beyond the narrow confines of an elevator when you craft and deliver a compelling elevator speech. Your pitch can be a valuable tool anywhere from a cocktail party to a networking event to an industry trade show. It’s your chance to describe what differentiates your company – and the role you play in that.

Yet many people get it wrong. They speak to someone like they’re chatting with a colleague, cluttering their pitch with industry jargon and failing to truly engage the listener. Or they revert to generic or unsubstantiated claims. “We’re the best.” “Our product is faster.” “We always deliver.”

To create a successful elevator speech, focus on answering these simple questions:

  • Who are you, and what exactly do you do?
  • And more importantly, Why should I care?

You need to speak to the pain of your audience – and how your company can help alleviate it.

I’m going to describe some important considerations for developing a compelling elevator pitch. While this is something you can take on internally, it’s also an area where your marketing agency can bring a fresh perspective.

Read on to learn how to write something that can intrigue your listener, keep the conversation going, and lead to new business.

Keep it short.

You need to make every word count. While some argue that your speech can extend up to three minutes, Element Three writes speeches that are just a paragraph or two – something you can easily say in a minute or less. Keeping it that brief forces you to distill your message down to the most important points that you want to make.

Example Elevator Speech

A data center can be a center of stress and fear, with an ever-growing amount of data and ever-shrinking resources. We have your back, with cloud-empowered, all-in-one data recovery solutions that are easy to use, insanely time-efficient, and backed by the industry’s best support.

Be clear.

Avoid words like “synergy” and “cutting-edge” in your pitch as they might not have the positive impact you expect. And in brand communication, it's the impact, not the intent, that matters. So kill the jargon and focus on the value you deliver.

Be relatable.

Whether you’re in a formal or an informal setting, you don’t want to come across as stiff. Engage your listener in a way that showcases your personality.

Everything from your word choice to your body language should convey that you’re confident, and that you know exactly what you’re talking about. You’re representing your company and want them to feel like they’d have a great experience doing business with you.

Remember: What’s in it for them?

Whoever is listening to your pitch doesn’t care about your company culture or internal processes. They care about their bottom line. They care about their business challenges and how they can solve them.

You know what’s going on in your industry. Think about what might keep them up at night. Do they need to cut costs by making their workflows more efficient? Are they worried about handling mushrooming data volumes with shrinking IT resources?

Write your pitch from the listener’s perspective and include two things:

  • The specific benefit: The benefit is the impact that you can have on their business; quantify the benefit if you can.
  • The differentiation: You also need to communicate precisely what differentiates your product or service and relate that to the listener’s pain points. Maybe you have a patented technology that’s proven to keep networks more secure. Or you’ve got the best support team in your industry. Speak to what truly differentiates you.

Example Elevator Speech

Finally, the health coverage you’ve been craving – that can actually last beyond this fiscal year. No more high or low spikes. And Aim Medical Trust’s premiums increase an average of 4% less per year than plans that aren’t built for municipalities.

You know Aim. Like them, we’re not motivated by sales commissions: we’re motivated by what your municipality's needs. Like all-in Aim-backed plans and the answers you need – when you need them. Plus legal advice, health coverage counseling and employee education, all just a phone call away. It’s the right thing to do.

Be ready to back it up.

Anyone can make claims, so don’t be surprised by some degree of skepticism. Be ready to substantiate any claims that you make so that you’re not caught flat-footed when someone questions you.

Rehearse it until it doesn’t sound rehearsed.

Nothing will turn people away faster than a speech that sounds like you just hit the “Play” button on the “Buy Now” record. You need to connect with your audience – whether it’s one person or a hundred – by speaking in their language, not yours. That comes from rehearsal.

Helpful hint: Practice delivering your elevator speech to one of your colleagues (or someone else you trust), and incorporate their feedback.

Adjust to your audience.

You’ll need to know your speech well enough that you can adjust it according to your audience and the situation. Speaking for five minutes with a mid-level manager at a networking event is much different from an unexpected one-minute encounter with a chief executive at a business conference. So be ready to adjust your tone and key messages as needed.

If you’ve just gone through a rebrand, you might also find yourself presenting some version of the elevator speech internally. You’ll need to tweak your speech to make it resonate with your colleagues – and make them want to learn it themselves.

Close with a specific call-to-action.

Okay, let’s say you’ve nailed your elevator speech. Now it’s time to close with a clear call-to-action that invites the listener to take the next step, whether it’s a product demonstration, phone conversation or actual meeting.

Remember to give them your card or invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn to keep the lines of communication open. You never know when those elevator doors will open on your next opportunity.

Derek Smith Team Photo at Element Three

Derek Smith's skills as a reporter serve him well as a senior writer here at Element Three—and if you need a coach for your soccer team, he's got you covered. He's worked as a content strategist as well as a copywriter, so he's always thinking about the why behind every word and every piece of every campaign.