An Elevator Speech: The Shorter Story Wins

Every business needs an elevator speech. Yet buildings aren’t tall enough yet for most people to share theirs – most are still way too long, boring and complex.

Crafting an elevator speech means painting a picture. Enticing people to listen. And delivering it carefully and quickly.

It doesn’t mean cramming meaningless business messages into a rehearsed business description.  That’s a waste of time.

The best elevator speeches are, in almost every case, a short story.

What this means is that they go beyond telling what you do (e.g., we provide business-class software sales and marketing solutions for small financial institutions) to focusing on why you do what you do (e.g., we help small banks compete against much larger competitors).

So tell them a short story.

Grab their attention with an issue that’s interesting and inviting, one that you sense they’ll actually want to hear more about. (e.g., 95% of small banks confess their main issue is large competitors will price them out of business). The aim of a compelling elevator speech is that people will be so interested they’ll stand and hold the door open when you get off.

Because you give them less, they want more. (e.g., who do you help stay competitive?)

There are three key elements to consider when crafting an elevator speech:

  1. Start with Why. Explain a problem or issue you help resolve. People understand conflict and it is a powerful hook to hold their attention.
  2. Provide an Example. Share a name or two that showcases what you do and who you help. It’s critical to make it real.
  3. Provide Proof. Show how you resolve the pressing issue and help create a tangible payoff. Everyone loves a happy ending.

Assume that what your company does is inherently interesting (it is) and that when someone asks you what you do, they’ll be compelled (they will be).

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