Crafting the perfect elevator speech is both an art and a science in which the speaker must clearly describe the product or service he or she is offering, the problem it solves or need it fulfills, and how it differs from the competition. Lorraine Howell, founder of Seattle-based Media Skills Training and author of Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! ($12.95; Book Publishers Network), offers the following tips to help entrepreneurs polish their pitch:
- Keep it short. ‚ÄúYou have about 10 seconds to capture someone‚Äôs imagination. It‚Äôs almost like tweeting in real life,‚ÄĚ says Howell. ‚ÄúWhen people are asking you what you do, what they‚Äôre really asking is ‚ÄėWhat can you do for me?‚Äô And they‚Äôre listening for that benefit.‚ÄĚ
- Talk about the results, not the process. Most elevator speeches fail because people talk about how they do what they do instead of the results or benefits they provide, Howell points out.
- Use your imagination. ‚ÄúCome up with something that grabs people by the lapels. It‚Äôs a kind of hook to tease them into wanting to hear more.‚ÄĚ
- Remember your audience. Understand who it is you‚Äôre trying to attract and say something that‚Äôs meaningful to them. Howell says people often tell the audience what they think is important rather than what the audience thinks is important.
- Don‚Äôt overdo it. ‚ÄúA big mistake is doing a data dump instead of encapsulating,‚ÄĚ Howell says. ‚ÄúThey want to tell the audience everything about everything.‚ÄĚ
- Pay attention to your audience. When pitching to an audience, it‚Äôs important to gauge their reactions to ensure that you‚Äôre holding their interest. ‚ÄúEverybody is channel surfing now, looking for something of interest. A lot of speakers don‚Äôt realize when their audience has changed channels.‚ÄĚ
- Keep it simple. Even if your field is technical, try to keep it concise, Howell advises. ‚ÄúI did a workshop for a group of environmental engineers once. One of them said he went to a third-grade class where the kids asked what he did for a living. He said, ‚ÄėI dig in the dirt.‚Äô That‚Äôs a great elevator speech. Even third graders or college graduates will want to know how a person makes money digging in the dirt.‚ÄĚ
- Keep it fresh. “Sometimes people will come up with an elevator speech that works, and so they neglect to refresh it. As time goes by, your business changes or your audience changes or your market changes. Your elevator speech is a living, breathing tool,‚ÄĚ Howell says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not a spiel that‚Äôs set in stone forever.‚ÄĚ