Elevator Speeches

Do you have an elevator speech?  What exactly is an elevator speech?  It is a 15 – 30 second blurb about who you are, what you do and why someone should know about you (or your product).  They call it an elevator speech because it is about that length of time between floors that you might have a captive audience.  The same can probably be said about meeting someone for the first time.  You only have about 30 seconds to really get their attention, whether it is for business, an interview or even just a date!  So you need to make the most of it.

How do you know what to say in that length of time? Whatever you decide to say, it must be interesting, but also concise.  You must present what you are trying to say without leaving any questions unanswered.  Just saying “Hi. My name is Bob Smith and I work at a grocery store” doesn’t really cut it.  What Bob should say is “Hi. My name is Bob Smith and I work for Save Plus Groceries and we promise to cut you grocery bill in half.”  Now….wouldn’t that get your attention?  Wouldn’t you want to know more?  You can read a great article about the do’s and do not’s of elevator speeches here.

So how can this work for you in your everyday life?  We don’t exactly go around with a prepared speech in our heads when we go to the grocery store.  Besides, you don’t want to sound like you’re giving a speech when you meet someone that you haven’t seen for years in line at the bank.  How can we use elevator speech principles in our day to day conversation?  How many times have we been asked “So what have you been up to?” and we reply….”Oh, not much.”  I know I do this all the time, when really, my life is full and exciting, but I either can’t think of anything to tell someone, or I just don’t know how to fit all the exciting things into one small conversation. Maybe I should prepare an elevator speech for my day to day life.  Here is how it would go:

“Hi!  What have you been up to?”

“Hi! Well, I’m now working at the library full time as a children’s librarian and I love the challenges! And I’m busy finishing up all the last minute details for my wedding which is now only one month away.  After that, I guess I’ll have to come up with a new project to keep my busy.  But then again, Christmas will be just around the corner.  What have you been up to?”

I have to admit, I wrote and re-wrote that small paragraph and I still think there is a lot to improve upon.  I’m certainly not trying to sell something to someone, but I think it should be a bit more interesting.  It was very difficult to do and I don’t know how natural I could get it sounding if I had to say it out loud.  That is one thing that they suggest you do….practice your speech! One thing my fiance tells me about going to Toastmasters is that even if he is just talking off the cuff with people at work that it is a lot easier to collect your thoughts when you learn good public speaking skills.

Of course, there are plenty of books on public speaking at the library, as well as books on how to write a good speech.  We also have a great “life skills” collection with books on how to organize your life, make better decisions and how to do “stuff” in general.  If you’d like to work on your own elevator speech, come in a get a few books to help you, whether it is a personal or professional speech.  And the next time someone asks what you’ve been up to, maybe you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to answer!