Take Your Elevator Speech to a Higher Level. Be Both Brief And Compelling.

 Successful young business team Engage your listeners so effectively that they will ride with you to the top floor and accompany you all the way to your office enthralled by what you have to say.

I was inspired again by Jay Baer’s August 12 post about elevator speeches in which he asserted that the typical elevator speech is too long for today’s attention span.

As he put it, "Understand that the Elevator Pitch is Dead. You remember the elevator pitch. The notion that you should be able to describe what your company does in the length of time consumed by the average elevator ride. I’m here to tell you, that’s way too long these days. Elevator rides seem interminable."

I am in absolute agreement that brevity is essential. But, brevity is just the beginning. In fact, the ideal elevator speech should be exactly that–a beginning. Don’t think of your short statement as a traditional speech designed to get a big round of applause at the end. Instead, it serves as an opening gambit that engages your listener so effectively that it begins a dialogue of indefinite length.  It can become the welcoming door to your compelling content.

Your real challenge is to be both brief and compelling.  You must both explain what it is that you do and how it will benefit the person to whom you are communicating. Not at length.  But, so concisely and compellingly that your imaginary elevator ride does not seem interminable.

Jay is right on the money about brevity. However, what’s even more important is to make those few words–perhaps the length of a tweet–so compelling that your listener will insist on learning more and will begin to ask you questions about what you do and how you can help them. The very best of the elevator speech breed will burn itself into your listener’s brain so that he both remembers and enthusiastically repeats it to others.

Thus, your elevator speech is not really about what your company does. Rather, it should describe exactly how we your listener will benefit by working with you.

Your elevator speech can provide focus to every element of your marketing strategy.

I have been very much influenced by a book about giving great speeches, Give Your Speech. Change the World , by Nick Morgan.  Like Jay, he requires that an elevator speech be brief. In fact, he insists that it be a single sentence. The secret of success derives from the content of that single sentence.

As Nick explains it, there are three essential elements to every effective elevator speech:

  1. It must contain a benefit for your imaginary elevator companion.
  2. It must contain the word you, meaning your listener.
  3. It must contain some reference to emotion, because emotion is more engaging and memorable than intellectual information.

Although Nick writes in the context of the opening gambit of a real speech, I’m convinced that his advice applies equally to your content marketing efforts.  Your customers are always asking (even if it’s subliminal), “What’s in it for me?”  In answer to their question we need to be ready with content that is driven by a tightly focused brand promise that can be distilled into a Nick Morgan-style elevator speech.

Most of us probably think of an elevator speech as an afterthought that sits on top of all the marketing stuff we have already done. I think that may be backwards. If you get it right, your elevator speech may very well serve as the foundation for all of your marketing efforts. And, that is most certainly taking your elevator speech to a higher level.


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One Comment

  1. Posted November 24, 2009 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Good comments. For months I have been coaching job-seekers and companies on a three-stage process to discover three words that are rich enough in relevance, proof and value (similar to your three elements) to identify them as unique and compelling people. Once initially engaged, strangers will keep coming back for the information in your superior content, and your authenticity

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