You may be able to explain your points of differentiation, but that won’t help you in a short exchange! Have your “commercial” ready and opportunity will find you.

This week we asked: Do you have an elevator speech?

1. Yes – 45%

2. No – 55%

My Thoughts:  Only 45% of you said yes. So what makes a great elevator speech and how do you go about preparing yours?

  1. Be clear and concise. Stay away from industry specific language or intricate explanations-when you only have a minute it’s a waste of your time.
  2. Use powerful and exciting language. If you’re not excited about what you do, why should anyone else be?
  3. Give them a visual. Have a great story that illustrates what you do? Tell it! Giving people a visual to remember will help them be clear about your work when you walk away.
  4. Have more than one. Not everyone can be approached in the same way. Your elevator speech for the CEO of a company you’re trying to land as a client will be drastically different than the one you use on friends and family who want a better idea of what you do.
  5. Let it evolve. Think of your elevator speech as a draft. Try it out, see what works and tweak it.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. The only way to perfect your speech is to try it out. Test it out on everyone… your secretary, your partners, your significant other. Ask them for their input, they may have suggestions you haven’t thought of.

Always focus on the goal: what do you want to come from the pitch? You want to pique their curiosity; you want them to hand over their card and ask for a call; and you want to feel comfortable picking up the phone and making that call. Keep that in mind while writing, practicing and putting it to use. Remember to have a great hook, be clear but specific and always confident. Though it may seem uncomfortable at first, the more you use and develop your elevator speech, the more second nature it will become… and the more results you’ll start to see!

Similarly, it’s always good to be prepared– a point my colleague Robert Sattin of TAGLaw makes well:

Never go to a conference or a social event or a business meeting without knowing what you want to talk about, ‘dead air’ is not conducive to marketing. It could be a recent case or world news or something else that is somehow connected to your professional life, but find a way to start and lead a conversation with someone you will meet.”

Black Pearl: Here’s an interesting LinkedIn thread on different takes on the elevator speech. Good tips and some good humor…