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What is an elevator speech?

This article explains what is meant by an elevator speech, where it got its name from, and how to review your own.
Another important thing about networking is that when you are about to enter some type of networking event, you want to make sure to have practiced, well-rehearsed your personal elevator pitch, which is that 30 seconds of introduction that gives people a positive impression of who you are. And ideally, you want to add some element of something that makes you stand out. Right? If you want to be remembered, you need to give people a reason to not forget you. So in that elevator pitch, have some kind of detail about what you do, where you grew up, where you’ve travelled to, one of your special opinions, or whatever it is that makes people want to hear more about you.
I remember my first networking event when I was fresh off the boat from Denmark, just arrived to San Francisco. And in Denmark, we’re not particularly good at talking about ourselves. We’re very sort of humble and try to downplay our previous accomplishments, which is in stark contrast to the way things work in the US, you might know. Right? Everyone graduating from Stanford University believe that they can build $1 billion company and change the world– not a lot of humbleness about that. And we can actually learn a lot about the way Americans talk about themselves when it comes to networking. So I arrived to this big networking event. There’s, like, 300 people in this huge room.
Everyone was drinking drinks and it seems like everyone knew each other. And I almost left the room. If it wasn’t because I already paid $20 to enter, I would have probably left because I was so scared that nobody’s going to want to talk to me. And I’m never even going to get into any conversation. But that only took a second. And then somebody came over said hey, I’m Bill. How’s it going? What are you working on right now? How big is your team? What are the next milestones? How much money do you plan to raise? Where do you plan to grow your team after this? They just bombarded me with questions. And I had no idea how to answer this.
Right? I started talking about my uncle’s dog and when I grew up in Denmark and blah, blah, blah. And very quickly, this person Bill here, was like oh, hey, great. Nice to meet you Henrik. Good luck with that. Right? And I was like, oh, I suck. Nobody wants to hear about me and my startup. I’m never going to meet any interesting people here. So I had made that mistake that I hadn’t rehearsed my elevator pitch. I didn’t know how to present myself in a way that made me likeable and interesting. Right? You very quickly need to communicate what you’re looking for, so the other person knows how they can potentially help you.
And also figure out well, how can I potentially provide value to this person. It should be ideally some kind of win-win scenario. Because when people go to networking events today, they go there with a mission. Right? They don’t go there to socialise. You go there to figure out what are the people in this room that I need to know. And when I’m talking to somebody, I’m always thinking about my own network in the back of my mind– my own Rolodex, my own LinkedIn connections. So I might not be able to help you directly. But I might know somebody whom you should talk to.
And then I’ll send you an email introduction, and you can have a coffee with that person later on. So when going into networking events, make sure to have rehearsed your elevator pitch. Make sure you know what you’re looking for and you communicate how people can help you. Because if you don’t have an ask, if you don’t ask them about a specific thing, then people don’t know how they can potentially add value to you.

What is an elevator speech?

An elevator speech is a short message about who you are, your career aims and the benefits you bring to the company. It is a short message about who you are, your career aims and the benefits you bring to the company.

Communication skills play an important role in workplaces. An elevator speech is one of those effective communication tools that can potentially lead you to success in your career.

Where did it get its name from?

It got its name from the scenario of the professional who walks into his or her office building and gets in the elevator with the CEO. ‘So tell me,’ she says, ‘who are you and what do you do here?’

With the average elevator ride reported to be 16 seconds, you can’t waste time. This is your chance; you have a captive audience with someone influential in the company. Although it may seem trivial or unlikely, every professional is advised to have an elevator speech. You never know when the opportunity will arise, do you think you will be ready?

Reviewing your elevator speech

Ideally, you would like to give an articulate, concise summary that conveys that you are an intelligent professional, are involved in your work and can express yourself well to others.

When reviewing elevator speeches, think about things like:

  • If you were the CEO and had this conversation with this employee, would you hire them?
  • Was it clear and coherent?
  • Can you provide any tips on how to improve it?
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