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How to come up with an Elevator Speech that is worth the time of day

Updated: May 20, 2021

What is your elevator speech? How many times have you actually been cornered in an elevator and given 45 seconds to the essence of something. But, often you are asked what it is you do – and that is just as challenging. It’s not unlike New Hampshire Maple season where it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

There is no greater messaging exercise than the elevator speech. And not surprisingly, most organizations don’t get it right. An elevator speech goes to your values, to your mission, to who you are and what you do. But like all great documents, a committee often drafts it. Which means that everybody has to be throwing his or her bit in to make it work. What follows is often a long document both rambling and winding.

All with a shifting tone and focus improved completely unmemorable. So-called messaging or call framing, how do you make an elevator speech work? Well, an elevator speech should be brief and be in plain English. If the words won’t fit no one will remember them. Then keep it simple, 2-3 sentences. You need to be persuasive– make it easy to recall and easy to repeat. You don’t have to say everything, but rather just enough so that you introduce a concept of what you do and why: American Cancer Society, finding a cure to cancer. Commonwealth Edison, we keep the lights on. And like a light, there is a flash of a brand that you own and you introduced to the people you are communicating with. Know your audience, and how to speak to them. The more you say, the less they remember – and the more complex it is – the less it sticks in the mind.

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