Good Advice for Your Elevator Speech

Last Updated Jul 27, 2009 4:25 PM EDT

Most "elevator speeches" suck. Almost every pitch I've heard (and I've heard plenty) tries to cram in as much information as possible. That kind of motormouth behavior is wicked dumb, because if you're giving a brief presentation, you job is to pique interest, not convey information. You want to land the next meeting, not impress the prospect with your ability to vomit facts.

With that in mind, here's a quick video where sales trainer Terri Sjodin discusses the structure of an effective elevator speech. As usual, I've included a summary of her major talking points.

NOTE: Terri's advice deals with how to create and give a very short (3 min) presentation. Check out the post "Are You Ready with a Quickie (Message)" for how to give a sales message in 10 seconds or less.

Here's the summary:

  • Use elevator pitches for cold-calling, trade shows, chance meetings.
  • Create 6 parts: introduction, body (with three points), conclusion and close.
  • Give each of the six parts approximately 30 seconds.
  • Grab the prospect's attention with an intriguing introduction.
  • Present three points as teasers without much detail.
  • Wrap up and summarize in the conclusion.
  • Ask for the appointment (the close.)
That's as good a format for these things as I've seen, although you must be careful about trying to cram in too much information. Rule of thumb: Be able to deliver each part in 30 seconds in a tone of voice and speed that you'd use when talking to a not-too-bright adolescent.

Also, if you ask the prospect a question, the time that it takes for the prospect to answer is part of the 30 seconds! Thus, if your introduction is a question, the question needs to be 10 seconds (at most) followed by 20 seconds for the prospect to think and respond.

Note to the novices: NEVER try to give a three minute speech while actually in an elevator; the term is a misnomer.

Full Disclosure: I often write for SellingPower magazine, the producers of this video, which also has a distribution agreement with BNET for video content.