How to Craft a Winning Elevator Speech

If you’ve ever been stumped when a recruiter asked you why you would be the best candidate for the job, you know how important it is to have an elevator speech – that is, a short, compelling statement to sell yourself to potential employers or new networking contacts. 

However, not any old elevator speech will do. If people’s eyes glaze over when you introduce yourself, it’s time to craft a more arresting statement. Here are some tips to help you:


A foolproof 3-step formula

Your elevator speech should be brief (30 seconds or less). If you’re unsure what information to include, follow this easy 3-step formula: 

- Who you are (what you do, and in what field).
- How you can benefit an organization (your added value and the problem you solve).
- What you’re looking for.


How to make your elevator speech catchier

- Be memorable
 Use vivid imagery or unusual comparisons that will be hard to forget. If possible, try to present the problem you solve in intriguing terms. You don’t want to get too goofy – I think “clever” puns and outlandish job titles are best avoided – but a touch of humour can go a long way.    

- Avoid jargon
 Before you start pitching your SEO prowess, it’s a good idea to make sure the person you’re talking to is familiar with search engine optimization…or your carefully crafted speech will fall flat on its face. Be as concrete as possible, translate technical terms into plain English, and avoid acronyms at all costs. 

- State clearly what you’re looking for
 This is a crucial part of your elevator speech, yet many job seekers leave it out. You can’t expect others to figure out what you need – you have to tell them. So whether you’re looking for a referral, an informational interview, or someone who can critique your resume, be sure to ask for it in a clear and straightforward manner. 


The litmus test

How do you know if your elevator speech is any good? Here is a simple test that has never failed me:

- After you’ve stated the problem you solve, if people say, “Oh, that sounds interesting” or, “Good for you”: your statement is not compelling enough. Back to the drawing board you go!

- On the other hand, if they ask you, “How do you do that?” or, “What do you mean by that?” – you most likely have a winner. Yes, believe it or not, leaving people slightly puzzled is actually a good thing! That’s because your elevator speech is supposed to be a catchy sound bite leading to more discussion, as opposed to a summary of your resume. 

Crafting a good elevator speech takes time. Practicing until you can deliver it smoothly takes even longer. It is well worth the effort, though, considering that a good elevator speech is your best insurance against missed networking opportunities and awkward silences during job interviews!

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