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Goldfish and Elevator Speeches: Why They Matter and How to Create One

Posted by Carrie Lorenz on March 21, 2016 at 9:55 AM

how to create an elevator speechAnyone who’s created—or tried to create—an elevator speech knows that it’s harder than it might seem at first.

When you try to cram everything you or your business does in just a few sentences, it can be tough capturing everything you want to say. But that’s the importance of having an elevator speech, being able to communicate the big picture in a short span of time.

That’s why we’re giving you some easy-to-follow steps regarding how to create an elevator speech, as well as some insight into why elevator speeches matter.

What Do Goldfish Have to Do with Elevator Speeches?

In today’s digital and increasingly “on-demand” world, human beings now have the attention span equivalent to, if not less than, a goldfish. While that may seem disheartening, it makes it that much more important to communicate your point quickly and powerfully. An elevator speech is a living document, so you’ll probably have to rehearse, edit, and rehearse again.

It should be so short and effective that you can easily give it to a stranger on the spot, because you never know what opportunities you might stumble into where it will come in handy. So being prepared with an elevator speech on those occasions—no more than 2-3 minutes—is crucial to taking advantage of those opportunities. But if you want to capture your audience with the attention span no longer than a goldfish, you’ll want to be able to answer the question “So what do you do?” during the time you’re in an elevator with someone going between the first and second floor.

Here are some reasons why elevator speeches matter:

They Allow You to Be Prepared

If you have a formulated elevator speech when meeting a new contact or connection, it will force you to be constantly prepared with relevant information about your product or service. You’ll be able to give them a short and sweet explanation that potential clients will be interested in hearing.

They Allow You to Present Yourself as a Solution

Similar to your business’s value proposition or mission, you should also be presenting both yourself and your business in terms of being a solution to a specific problem. Knowing the nature of the specific problem and being prepared with an answer and solution will allow you to communicate to prospects in a more authoritative manner.

They Allow You to Sound Like an Authority

By simply know what you’re talking about as it relates to your area of expertise, in addition to being well prepared, will give you confidence when giving your elevator speech. That level of command and authority will help build up trust in new clients. They want to make sure they’re doing business with someone who is certain and unwavering about their solution and meeting client needs.

They Allow You to Create a Dialogue

The thing with an elevator speech, it’s not meant to be an overt sales pitch, but the start of a conversation. It actually should be mostly educational and informational instead of being pushy or “salesy.” A great elevator speech opens doors to questions and options that the prospect might not have considered before, so be prepared to be flexible and answer questions on the fly that your elevator speech might elicit.

So How Do You Create an Elevator Speech?

A really good elevator speech is short and to the point. If your business is a car dealership, for example, you might say something like “The best bargain for imported luxury vehicles in the county.” This as opposed to something like, “We’re a family owned auto dealership since 1979 that sells a wide variety of cars and various price points…”. You get the idea, the more succinct the better.

Also try to be engaging and attention grabbing. By saying your dealership is “the best bargain,” a consumer’s interest is piqued. Simply providing information about your company and what you sell will probably fail to excite anyone. Moreover, don’t be overly promotional but rather position your business as a solution to a common problem. In this case, finding an affordable, high-quality automobile is the issue and you’ve presented yourself as a solution. This relates to tailoring your elevator speech to your company’s best skill or core competence, making sure to emphasize what you're great at.

Try to ask questions as well, the kind that will incite conversation instead of just talking directly at the prospect. In this case, you might want to say something like, “When was the last time you found the car of your dreams without breaking the bank?” This gets people thinking, rather than talking at the customer about how great your business is.

Finally, do include some solid, factual information that intrigues the customer. Giving a track record of how many years your company has been in business for example, is a basic piece of information that can go a long way in an elevator speech.

So there you have it, how to create an elevator speech and why they matter. Goldfish, and humans, have a short attention span so by following some of these pro tips you should be able to grab their attention!


Topics: Business Growth Strategy

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