Crafting an Elevator Speech That Works

After another networking event and two conversations introducing my business to other consultants this week, I woke up this morning determined to stop doing such a lousy job with my elevator speech. I know the importance of a clear mission statement, a strong brand identity and an engaging elevator speech. I’ve read the books, done the training, and still I stumble.

I don’t take any comfort in knowing that most people struggle with their elevator speech. But there may be some learning for all of us in this struggle. In about 30 seconds or so, a good elevator speech has to do a lot:

  • Connect your business or organization to something the listener understands. Your words in effect help the brain organize this new information into a useable category.
  • Create the possibility that what you do can meet a need the listener has or will have. This means you have to place the listener’s needs in the story.
  • Engage the listener to begin a relationship. The faster you can get into a dialogue the more effective you will be in delivering the rest of your elevator speech. You have to be prepared to re-order the elements to flow with the dialogue.
  • Differentiate you from the rest of the possible ways to meet this need. Your integrity and promise have to come through in the words you choose.
  • And the best test is the Mom Test. I live in a town where I hear professionals say quite often, my mother doesn’t understand what I do. There’s a reason for this. Most of us fall back on inside jargon to explain our jobs—a language Mom may not know. So a good elevator speech is one your Mom might share with her friends and family to explain why she is proud of you.

I crafted a new elevator speech, included below as a example. It will need field-testing to see if it creates understanding and interest better than my past attempts. I am avoiding saying I am a consultant because too many people think they don't need anything in that category. I prefer to avoid getting immediately filed in a mental category entitled things I don't want. Instead I’ve tried to explain what I do in terms of needs I know my prospective clients have.

The question in the second sentence is designed to start the dialogue and the order of the sentences that follow will change based on how people answer my question. I hope you can hear the promises I am making about collaboration and trust. The statement is not jargon-free but perhaps the words I have used are common enough for most people.

The real test will be in live situations. One trainer advised rehearsing your speech many times until it just flows in all sorts of situations. That’s good advice I plan to follow. So if you see me any time soon, ask me what I do. Below is the elevator speech I will try to deliver. Please tell me if you get it and if we can collaborate in leading change.

I support leaders who want to lead changes in their organization to execute their vision. Where do you need to lead change?

I can work with you to respond to strategic issues. I can help your board set new goals and priorities through your strategic plan. I work with senior teams to innovate or improve major programs and signature initiatives. You can trust me to facilitate high stakes conversations to support your goals. I can coach you to develop the culture and competencies to align your organization’s identity with your vision. We are collaborators in leading these changes.