What is an Elevator Speech?
An Elevator Speech (ES) is a clear, concise bit of communication that can be delivered in the time it takes folks to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator. As it relates to the job search process, it communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It does not dwell on the past! An Elevator Speech is a forward thinking statement about who you are and what you bring to the party. When delivering your ES to a group, please stand up.
Basic Components of a Job Search Elevator Speech:
1. Who are you? Introduce yourself.
2. What field or industry are you in or what field are you interested in getting into? State your goals. Be specific—don’t just say “Sales” or “Management”
3. What kind of a position are you seeking? In what capacity do you function best? Be specific — do you have a niche?
4. What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What makes you different from the competition? Develop a statement of the primary differentiation of yourself. The differentiation is the single most important thing that sets you apart from the competition.
5. What Companies are you interested in? Company size? Private or Public? Non-Profit? 6. Willing to relocate? If so, where?
7. What benefits can employers derive from your skills, based on your proven accomplishments?
An Elevator speech should answer the question, “Why should I, or any employer, hire you and/or why should I give you information that may help you?” Read the attached
article for more insight .
Elevator Speech Do’s and Don’ts
by Katharine Hansen Be sure to read our articles The Elevator Speech is the Swiss
Army Knife of Job-Search Tools and Fantastic Formulas for Composing Elevator
Speeches. Here are the keys to successfully developing and using an elevator speech in your job-search. Follow these simple rules and you should achieve success with this important tool of job-hunting.
; Do make your Elevator Speech sound effortless, conversational, and natural.
; Do make it memorable and sincere. Open a window to your personality.
; Do write and rewrite your speech, sharpening its focus and eliminating unnecessary words and awkward constructions.
; Do avoid an Elevator Speech that will leave the listener mentally asking “So what?”
; Do consider including a compelling “hook,” an intriguing aspect that will engage
the listener, prompt him or her to ask questions, and keep the conversation going.
; Don’t let your speech sound canned or stilted.
; Do practice your speech. Experts disagree about whether you should memorize it, but you should know your speech well enough so you express your key points without
sounding as though the speech was memorized. Let it become an organic part of you. Many experts suggest practicing in front of mirrors and role-playing with friends. Certified Professional Virtual Assistant Jean Hanson advises practicing in the car on the way to networking events.
; Don’t ramble. Familiarizing yourself as much as possible with your speech will help keep you from getting off track.
; Do be warm, friendly, confident, and enthusiastic. A smile is often the best way to show friendliness and enthusiasm, while a strong, firm voice the best way to express confidence.
; Do take it slowly. Don’t rush through the speech, and do pause briefly between sentences. Breathe.
; Do project your passion for what you do.
; Do maintain eye contact with your listener.
; Don’t get bogged down with industry jargon or acronyms that your listener may not comprehend.
; Do be prepared to wrap up earlier than you were planning if you see the listener’s eyes glazing over or interest waning.
; Don’t hesitate to develop different versions of your Elevator Speech for different situations and audiences.
; When developing an Elevator Speech for a specific employer you’ve targeted, do
research the organization and incorporate that knowledge into your speech. See our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries.
; If you’re cold-calling a hiring manager and get his or her voicemail don’t be afraid
to leave your Elevator Speech as a voice message. You may be even more successful getting action from the speech than if you had talked to the manager personally.
; Do incorporate examples and stories to help support your points. Provide examples of successful outcomes of deploying your skills. Stories make your speech memorable.
; Don’t focus just on yourself, an approach that will almost assure a “so what?” reaction.
; Do focus on how you can benefit employers and help them solve their problems. Remember as you deliver your Elevator Speech that the listener may be mentally asking, “What’s in it for me (or my company)?” Author Carole Kanchier especially suggests that
your benefits include how you can save an employer time and money, help people feel good, or expand markets.
; Do use concrete, listener-friendly language, but at the same time, don’t be afraid
to paint vivid word pictures.
; Don’t forget to include your competitive advantage also known as your Unique
Selling Proposition (USP); in other words. how you can perform better than anyone else.
; Do end with an action request, such as asking for a business card or interview appointment.
; Don’t forget to update your speech as your situation changes.
; If you are uncomfortable with the kind of speaking that the Elevator Speech entails, do consider joining a group such as Toastmasters to boost your confidence.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Katharine Hansen is a former speechwriter
and college instructor who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine,
an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and prepares job-search correspondence as chief writer for Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters. She is author of Dynamic Cover
Letter for New Graduates; A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market; and, with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters and Write Your Way
to a Higher GPA, all published by Ten Speed Press. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.