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The Elevator Speech: An Effective Method to Convey a Winning Message April 16, 2012 What it is: A brief summary of unique aspects of you, your talents,

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Presentation on theme: "The Elevator Speech: An Effective Method to Convey a Winning Message April 16, 2012 What it is: A brief summary of unique aspects of you, your talents,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Elevator Speech: An Effective Method to Convey a Winning Message April 16, 2012 What it is: A brief summary of unique aspects of you, your talents, and research activities in a way that excites others (ref: Wikipedia) -Like a new type of business card: -Who you are -What you do -What you want to do -How you can be of value to someone else Its use: To communicate with your dean, impress in a job or grad school interview, summarize your professional services, etc. Length: Short enough for you to deliver in an elevator ride (30 sec- 2 min) – likely no more than 90 words Format: Oral, written, or video Variety: Use different versions depending on the context and target audience – Elevator speeches are by definition target audience-specific – Generic elevator speeches will be ineffective

2 Preparing Your Elevator Speech Know your audience Know yourself – What are your key strengths? – What adjectives would you use to describe yourself? – What are you trying to “sell” about yourself? – Why are you interested in, e.g., the company or industry the listener represents? What can you offer them that they don’t already have? Source: Pepperdine Business School,

3 Other Questions to Think About How can you best convey excitement and spark interest? Sometimes something odd can capture attention… (Shakespeare anecdote) What do you highlight? (What do you emphasize with your voice?) What do you leave out? Why? How do these choices vary with your audience? – Example: You’re going to be at a conference and want to talk with Company X about summer jobs. So you study up on that company and prepare a speech tailored to it. – Ask yourself: How will you add value to it rather than why they should hire you?

4 “The Perfect (Elevator) Speech” Ref: Business Week, June 18, – Read “you” for “business” in this article

5 Outline Your Talk Who am I? What do I offer? What problem am I proposing to solve? What is the main contribution I can make? What should the listener do as a result of hearing this? – Think of communication as sending a message to elicit a particular response.

6 Put Your Speech Together 1.For each question on the previous slide, write a sentence. (You may want to address different questions.) 2.Connect the sentences to make them flow. 3.Review your speech: Simplify words, change jargon into everyday language, remove unnecessary words, keep sentences short. It should sound conversational. 4.Read the speech out loud, preferably to someone else to help you critique it. What makes sense? Is it logical? Does one thought flow into the next? What’s confusing? Is your “ask” clear? 5.Memorize it. 6.Take a deep breath, then give it.

7 Examples of Elevator Speeches

8 A User Interface Designer “Hi. I'm Ed Swiss, and I connect people to computers. I create simple, effective user interfaces that make it easier for people to do their jobs. I bet I could simplify your workplace. Let’s talk about it.”

9 A User Interface Designer “Hi. I'm Ed Swiss, and I connect people to computers. I create simple, effective user interfaces that make it easier for people to do their jobs. I bet I could simplify your workplace. Let’s talk about it.” I would replace could (conditional tense = might never happen) with can (more self-assured and determined that the outcome you’re proposing is going to happen). I also like the last statement. It’s open- ended, which invites the listener to respond and engage in conversation. That’s what you want from an elevator speech: to get your listener to respond.

10 A Hardware Engineer “Some think outside the box. But my brilliance is within the box. I’m Sarah Barnes, a hardware engineer. I design computer architecture for maximum efficiency, creating robust systems.”

11 A Hardware Engineer “Some think outside the box. But my brilliance is within the box. I’m Sarah Barnes, a hardware engineer. I design computer architecture for maximum efficiency, creating robust systems.” I would like to see more specific detail in the last sentence (how does she achieve this outcome?). She’s going to be talking to technical personnel, so this approach is going to sound lame. I would also put her self-introduction in the beginning. I would also change the logic (my work creates robust systems that provide maximum efficiency: A+B=C) and provide the interesting hook at the end to engage the listener who hopefully will then respond. I also like the confidence of this one in the use of “brilliance.” Not too many people would use that word about themselves; as a result, it almost has a fun feel to it. So I would rewrite this as follows to emphasize the engaging/provocative last line: “My name is Sarah Barnes. I’m a hardware engineer. I design computer architecture to create robust systems that have maximum efficiency. Some think outside the box. But my brilliance lies within the box. I’d love to tell you how I do this.”

12 A Civil Engineer “Hi, I'm Arnold Karman...I harness the forces of Mother Nature and put them to work for you. I'm a civil engineer specializing in building bridges, roads, and other thoroughfares. We help you get where you're going safely and expediently!”

13 A Civil Engineer “Hi, I'm Arnold Karman...I harness the forces of Mother Nature and put them to work for you. I'm a civil engineer specializing in building bridges, roads, and other thoroughfares. We help you get where you're going safely and expediently!” This one opens with the big picture (Mother Nature) at your service (not how Mother Nature is normally perceived – value shift, which makes the listener pay closer attention). The second sentence is, in general terms, what he does – very clear. I especially like the last sentence: It brings home to you the value of what this fellow can bring to your life. And it’s very colloquial. It harkens to (analogy) a taxi/bus service or some other kind of service that takes care of you (maternal like Mother Nature) and takes you somewhere, which is appropriate to the domain of road building. I would add an opener about how he can apply his skills to the perceived needs of the listener. Suggestions?

14 A Trainer “I'm Robbie Gordon of the Conflict Resolution Institute. I turn conflict into agreement. My workshops and coaching reduce conflict. My company teaches people how to understand, discuss, and resolve conflict so they can live happier lives. Let’s talk about how to replace the conflict in your company.” Source:

15 A Trainer “I'm Robbie Gordon of the Conflict Resolution Institute. I turn conflict into agreement. My workshops and coaching reduce conflict. My company teaches people how to understand, discuss, and resolve conflict so they can live happier lives. Let’s talk about how to replace the conflict in your company.” I like that this one starts with the person’s name. But I would say: My name is [ ], which is easier for the listener to parse. It’s a longer phrase but with clearer grammar. I would include a phrase explaining what the “how” might mean at the end of the last sentence. I would rephrase the last sentence as: “Since I’ve studied your company, I have a number of ideas how to reduce conflict you may be experiencing there. Are you interested?” Source:

16 A Toastmaster “Hi I'm Cassandra Cockrill, an evangelist for better thinking, better speaking, and better listening. I help thousands of people each year to be sure that they communicate more confidently and competently than ever before. I do it through Toastmasters. [ ] What about you, are you interested in better communication?” Toastmasters: This organization helps members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.www.toastmasters.org

17 A Toastmaster “Hi I'm Cassandra Cockrill, an evangelist for better thinking, better speaking, and better listening. I help thousands of people each year to be sure that they communicate more confidently and competently than ever before. I do it through Toastmasters. [ ] What about you? Are you interested in better communication?” I’d remove the repetition of “better.” Also “than ever before” are extraneous words. I would add something about the value of Toastmasters before the last sentence [ ]. The last sentence is rhetorical. (Who ISN’T interested in communicating better?) I’d rephrase as: How can I help you communicate better [in your business, your life]? Or, let’s talk about how I can help you communicate better [in your context].

18 Freelance Writer Hi, my name is Stephanie Sides. I own a freelance writing business named Shakespeare Writes. I specialize in the art of putting you in words. I provide writing/editing services to help your research and non-profit organizations secure funding from receptive governmental agencies, particularly where health care meets information technology. Do you ever hire freelance writers?

19 Shakespeare Writes’ Elevator Speech Hi, my name is Stephanie Sides. I own a freelance writing business named Shakespeare Writes. I specialize in the art of putting you in words. I (1) provide writing/editing services (2) to help your research and non-profit organizations secure funding from receptive governmental agencies, (3) particularly where health care meets information technology. With this expertise, how can I help you address your needs? My tagline is actually iambic quadrameter to underscore the Shakespeare connection (iambic pentameter). (1) is what I do. (I debated whether to use “storytelling” in place of “writing/editing services.” What’s the difference in effect?) (2) how I can help you ($). (3) is the specific application where I have expertise. Total is ~60 words. I might also remove the “with this expertise” since it’s clear that’s what my expertise is. The one thing lacking is an explanation of my company’s name that would help the listener remember it. I could mention the family name/story of family company because it’s contrary to what people think of when they think of Shakespeare. This speech needs to be longer.

20 Homework Assignment Write an elevator speech about your expertise as related to your Engineering major. What is special about you? How you would use this to get hired after graduation or for a summer internship in your field? Read it aloud and time it to 30 seconds before submittal. Send it to me at by Session 6 (Wednesday, April 18) and plan to present it at that session for class


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