All About the Elevator Speech

Everything You Need to Know About Giving an Elevator Speech

What is the the elevator speech

This is a term that has been around for a while. 

But if I asked you now “Do you have an elevator speech?”

What would you say? “Um I think so?”

The term elevator speech is taken from the concept that if you meet someone in a lift and they asked “what do you do?” You could answer quickly and succinctly before one of you got out?

In essence it is 20 seconds (30 at most), but that was before high speed elevators became the norm!

So today somehow you need to get it even shorter but still tell them the same thing. It’s been proven by Social Media analytics that our attention spans are becoming shorter. People are engaging more with videos but they are watching shorter ones, they don’t have the time or maybe the inclination, or both to watch things over three minutes. They can even tell you how long people will read for and the ideal length of a Blog, so don’t except this to be over 1200 words.

Who’s in the elevator?

Back to an elevator speech. What does this entail?

Who are you

Who do you work for?

How long



What do you want to do(?)

It sounds simple right? But once you start writing it out (on a computer or longhand) then you realise this isn’t so simple. Especially if you own the company or it’s a peculiar type of business, or its foreign to the audience. Before you know it, their eyes have glazed over, they are confused or they get out of the lift. A better approach maybe to write it in a bullet point format, like it was going on a PowerPoint slide. 

One that adopts the 6X6 rule. Six lines of six words.

Just never put it on a Power Point slide!

Mind Tools has a good summary but it speaks less about your personal elevator pitch than what I am emphasising.

But there is a Forbes article I read which had the same advice I do. Once you write it you need to practice it. Make sure it is in time, that is sounds sincere and that you have enthusiasm in your voice. For many people this maybe be more than you think, it may feel overdone.

If you can get this right you have the start of a few things;

1. A professional introduction, greeting or conversation opener 

2. The basis of a testimonial pitch

3. A mini speech that will give you more confidence.

It is easy to see how the first two benefits are achieved. Introducing yourself in a professional way regardless of your industry has got to be beneficial. Being able to build on this basic mini speech is going to be useful in job interviews or if you are in the business of prospecting for clients or other business partners. But how is it going to give you more confidence?

The Elevator to Self Confidence

I believe being confident at public speaking is hugely beneficial to self-confidence. Not the other way around. I have meet many women whom are seemingly to shy or unprepared to share confidently what they do, who they are. Even if you are between jobs, working in the family home or just been laid off, having an elevator pitch that fulfills the above criteria is essential. Not just because it might lead to your next job (it did work for me once) but because it will help your self-confidence. It’s so easy to be shy, nervous, or even embarrassed about your change in working circumstances. But part of turning those negative thought around is speaking out loud the positive ones. That is why when you can speak confidently about your situation you will feel better, start to create a self-fulfilling prophesy, or attract positive energy, whatever you believe (or not) it’s been proven. I am living proof of both being in negative work situations which have been turned around and (being in therapy which involved) speaking positively to create a positive mind set.

Give us an example

There are many examples on other blogs. But here is mine.

“I was a corporate real estate manager for 15 years after University but whilst living in Singapore joined a Toastmaster club, which helped get me a job as a workshop presenter, and introduced me to the world of professional public speaking. I was trained by international speakers and became an expert speech evaluator. Now back in Auckland I have set up Speech Marks, to help others discover their own public speaking skills. I am lucky to have found my passion and be able to share it.”

Yup that needs editing and more practice!