Though the business world has increasingly moved away from in-person dealings to online interactions, the elevator speech is still as important as it ever. Also called the elevator pitch, this is a short 15 to 30-second speech designed to generate interest in your project, product or potential as an employee. Perfect your elevator speech using these tips and keep it on deck for the next time a great spontaneous opportunity presents itself.
The perfect elevator speech can be divided into two parts: content and presentation. Content is the information you plan to include in your speech, and presentation is the way you present that information. Both are equally important, but what is most important when it comes to perfecting your elevator speech is making both components work together.
Choosing content for your elevator speech is all about finding what makes you, or the project you are pitching, the solution to a problem the listener is experiencing. Anticipating these problems doesn't mean you have to develop the power to read minds. Simply think about the qualities that set you or your project apart from the crowd and focus on them — the same as you would in any job interview or more formal setting.
It's important to remember that your elevator speech shouldn't just be a regurgitation of your resume. Don't give a long list of names and dates that any interested party could just get off your LinkedIn profile. Focus on one or two unique attributes about your pitch, and remember to answer the question that is surely foremost in the listener's mind: "What do I get out of it?"
Once you've zeroed in on the content of your elevator speech, work on the method of presentation. Practice your speech out loud, not just to time it and make sure it comes in under the important 30 second mark, but also to make sure that your tone is right and you don't stumble over your words.
One of the most important things to remember is that your speech should sound natural. No matter how many times you've practiced it, try to give the impression that you're pitching for the first time. Avoid dull monotone pitches, but don't get over-excited either. The first is boring, and the second may put off more conservative listeners.
Finally, keep the structure of your pitch in mind. Start with a warm up, quickly letting the listener know how your pitch is going to help them. Then go on to the meat of your pitch once you've got them curious and wanting to know more.
Perfecting an elevator pitch is an essential skill for anyone with business or entrepreneurial ambitions. Crafting the perfect pitch involves striking a delicate balance between telling enough that the listener knows what makes the pitcher unique, and holding enough back that he is left wanting to know more. If you haven't already, spend some time mastering your elevator speech. You'll be glad to have it when you need it.
Photo courtesy of Beatrice Murch at Flickr.com