The Art of the Elevator Speech

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In a world that is as busy and hectic as ours is, it is important for you to have some idea on how to properly answer the question, "So what do you do and where do you work?" This is your 20-30 seconds of fame, the time when you have someone's attention and you can distinguish your firm from all others. Most listeners have a short attention span, so if you want to “shine”, you need to be ready to answer this key question in a brief but interesting manner.

Before preparing what you want to say, it is important that you know what your firm's unique selling proposition is – that is, what is it that you do differently or better than your competitors? You need to be prepared to share what is special about your brand, your reputation, your focus or any distinctive skills and experiences that represent you in the marketplace.

The success of the so-called elevator speech is based on two criteria. First, you do not want to sound like you are reciting a canned presentation. Whatever you choose to say should sound very natural, as it comes from your heart. You may practice so that you can share your thoughts in an articulate fashion, without much “hemming and hawing” but you should not appear stilted or stiff when you talk about the firm.

Secondly, you want to say something that is meaningful for your listener. When someone presents you with the opportunity to tell them what you do, you need to consider how you can describe the firm in terms that reflect the needs of your audience. It would be true to say, “We are a public accounting and consulting firm” but much more helpful to say, “We work with middle market business owners to provide solutions to their financial, business, operations and technology problems.”

Don't worry too much about the details. The actual words are not as critical as your enthusiasm, passion and the value you can add to the conversation when you answer that all important question, “What do you do?”

Written by Sally Glick,
Chief Marketing Officer
Sobel & Company

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