Your 30 Second Elevator Speech in Nine Steps

Your 30 Second Elevator Speech in Nine Steps

July 31, 2013
CommunicationsBusiness Skills

Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly

An elevator speech (or elevator pitch) is a short summary that clearly defines who you are, what you do, and why it matters and can be told to anyone in 30 seconds—presumably, the amount of time you’d have to introduce yourself and get your point across on an elevator ride.  We’ve addressed elevator speeches in the past on RDBA Weekly, and today we’re going to break it down into nine easy steps.  Work through our nine tips and you’ll have a 30 second sound bite ready for prime time.

  • Start Broad.  Your elevator speech needs to answer the following questions: Who are you? What do you do? What does it matter?  Spend some time answering these questions—literally write (or type) your answers and don’t limit yourself.  Start broad and then narrow down to concise language.
  • Three Key Points. Three is truly a magic number when it comes to communications.  Distill your draft speech into three key points with no more than one supporting point each.
  • Establish Authority.  Be sure to tell your audience why you’re the expert…briefly.  Don’t recite your resume, just provide clear evidence of your experience and expertise and what makes you effective.
  • What Sets You Apart?  We’re all individuals and approach our jobs and lives uniquely.  And we should own this!  Don’t be afraid to talk about what makes you special (but clearly, don’t go overboard). Articulate what makes you different and how this adds value.
  • Think in Terms of Headlines. Now think about the very first words that you'll say. You’ve got just about eight seconds to grab your audience’s attention, so be sure to open with an attention grabbing and intriguing headline that gives enough information to draw your audience in and make them curious to know more.
  • Bye Bye Jargon. Eliminate any industry terms, lingo, etc. and speak in real terms that anyone can understand. You want your elevator speech to sound natural and genuine. Speak from the heart and not from the textbook. 
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.  On Your Own. Once you have crafted the perfect elevator speech, it’s time to practice. Some have recommended practicing it up to 100 times (outloud).  Do whatever it takes to make your speech second nature.
  • Now, Ask for Feedback. Once you’re comfortable with your elevator speech, recite it for someone else and ask for feedback.  You’ll want to know: does this make sense? And, do I sound “real”?