Your Elevator Speech in 140 Characters

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Last week, I presented a writing workshop to a group of chemists and scientists who create and test snack foods for a major manufacturer. In addition to teaching them how to develop and manage their content – specifically, present technical findings to higher-ups at the company – I took them through the sometimes-painful elevator speech.

An elevator speech is an important part of any PR program because it captures the essence of what you’re about in a very short amount of time. This is very useful to have handy the first time you meet someone new at a networking event, conference or practically anywhere else.

Most experts recommend keeping your elevator speeches to 30 seconds or so.

I recommend 140 characters.

Yes, I took this from Twitter, but if you can’t say what you do in 140 characters, then you definitely want to rethink your strategy.

Over the years, I’ve been amazed in a good way at the impact some elevator speeches have, but also have walked away totally baffled at others. A few years ago when I was a member of a local networking group, every week we went around the room, stood up and had to give our speech. I had something pretty basic, but was told by the leader that it was, in a word, boring. He suggested this:

“I can get your name in the media by working with you to discover your key differentiating factors. Trust me – your business will double in the next 6 months.”

I trusted his opinion. After all, he had been in the group far longer than me. The next meeting, I stood up and said this. Not only did I receive stares from attendees; a few people actually laughed.

You can see how ridiculous this seems now. I quickly switched my speech (thanking the leader for his input) to this:

“Hello, I’m Scott Cytron. I provide public relations, marketing and communications services to professional services’ industries. I also teach people how to write.”

I can’t say for certain that this one is the most exciting speech ever written – but it has proven effective for me.

Try the Twitter approach. Here’s a guideline – when Twitter counts characters, it also counts the spaces between words:

“This is what 140 characters looks like. It’s really not much more than a few sentences, and offers a great opportunity to be very succinct.”

I’ve taught this method to many CPAs and accountants. As you might suspect, some are great at coming up with something innovative, yet within their characters, while others don’t know how to start.

Whatever you do, simply try it – and don’t worry about sticking 100% to 140 characters. You have to do what works for you and your business.

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