Elevator speeches can get you to the next level

OK, I know the term “elevator speech” ranks right up there with “think outside the box,” “keep you in the loop” and “ideate” on the list of corporate-speak you’ve heard too much. But you know what it means, so there’s that. We can dialogue on new terms with a better ROI at a date TBD.

So how’s your elevator speech game? Chances are, you could step it up.

You might think you don’t need one.

But you’d be wrong.

You need one. Actually, you need more than one. They are a great way to talk about almost anything and they can help you get your way.

Elevator speeches aren’t just for people pitching a product or pitching themselves during a job hunt.

Having a succinct, what’s-in-it-for-them way to tell people about yourself, your job, your projects is absolutely the best way to be confident about your professional interactions. Elevator speeches are not about selling, so breathe a sigh of relief, you can skip the awkward “I’m so great” approach. Marketing and management strategist Michelle Golden describes those “salesy” kinds of elevator speeches as “in-person spam.” Not a good thing.

Your elevator speech should create rapport and give people a genuine idea of what you do or what you’re working on.

You’ve probably been in a networking situation asking someone what they do and getting the non-illuminating response, “I’m a senior account executive at X Tech.” And then what? Your eyes glaze over and you look for an escape. Networking fail.

The problem is that most times your job title and where you work doesn’t really answer the question of what you actually do. It’s not who you are. It doesn’t tell people why they should care.

So skip the salesy spam, and the boring-as-can-be glaze.

Like any other communication, you have to consider your audience and your goal. What do they need to know about you, your job, about your current project? What do you want them to know?

What are you working on? Why is it important? What’s exciting about it? What competitors are working similar projects? How do you have an advantage?

Know those answers. Be ready to talk about them. Organize your thoughts and present them in a way that tells someone why your work matters.

As with all things, practice, practice, practice.

You probably won’t deliver the information as a monologue very often, unless you’re in a meeting when you are asked to briefly introduce yourself. But you want to be comfortable describing yourself, your job or your projects when you are in the elevator with an executive or at a ball game with your neighbor’s brother-in-law, who happens to be starting a job in your company next week. In those cases, you’ll likely convey the same information in smaller bites as part of a natural conversation.

The point here: know the information you want to deliver and how you want to serve it, but be careful it doesn’t sound like a canned speech – no spam. Keep it fresh and cater to your audience, and you’ll notice a boost in both your confidence and the positive feedback you get.

Let me know how it goes.

Photo credit: Fletcher6 / Creative Commons Wiki