Best Practices for Nailing your Elevator Speech

Author: Larry McAlister
Posted: Jun 23, 2017

An elevator speech is an old-school term for a timeless concept. People don’t even talk on elevators anymore, unless of course they’re on their phones talking to someone not on the elevator.


The concept is that you’ve got the time it takes to ride an elevator to sell yourself, your company/organization or your cause to someone you’ve just met.

You’ve got 30 seconds, and you better be friendly, conversational and engaging. Your elevator speech will be just yours, personal and passionate to the appropriate degree. But all good elevator speeches will have the same strategic elements.

Here’s how to put together an effective and engaging exchange:


  • Identify your goal: You may want to tell potential clients and others about your company. Maybe you have new products and services you want to promote. Or maybe you simply want to explain what you do for a living.

  • Explain what you do: Describe what your company does, focusing on the problems it solves and how it helps people. It’s OK to be a bit sales-y as long as the concept is clearly communicated.

  • Communicate a unique selling proposition: Identify what makes you and your company unique.

  • Don’t use “stop” words or buzzwords: Stay away from industry terminology, jargon, acronyms or buzzwords that may make the person you are talking to take pause. Some 2017 buzzword examples would be: integrated solutions, crowdculture, value exchange, synergy, influencer, persona and thought leader.

  • Know your business: Your elevator speech starts the conversation. You must know your business and be able to discuss and certainly answer any questions you hopefully have generated. You’re dead if you can’t back up your elevator speech, which will come off as a memorized, misguided pitch.

The goal of every elevator speech, according to branding advisor to CEO’s Marc Rudov, is: “to be creating and perfecting your brand – the unique, concise, pithy, jargon-free, memorable, repeatable articulation of what your company offers. You’ll know you’ve created a strong brand when people 'get it' in 15 seconds, without videos or white papers.”


Rudov was actually talking about how your elevator speech should be on your homepage, but the concept holds. What do you do? Why are you valuable? Why should I go beyond this conversation?

Short and sweet, likable and engaging. You’ve got 30 seconds – make them count. 


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