BY G. A. FINCH
An executive and fellow author I know had suggested that I write about “elevator pitches” in my book, The Savvy Executive: The Handbook Covering Employment Contracts, Compensation, Executive Skills, and Much More. It was a practical suggestion but I needed to set limits on the length of my book. I am making up for this omission by this blog post.
I personally have two elevator speeches that, admittedly, I do not use as often as I should.
For those readers who are not familiar with the concept of an “elevator speech,” it is having a ready-made quick response to someone who asks “What do you do for a living?” or “What business are you in?” The idea is that on an elevator you may have approximately 30 to 45 seconds to tell what you do before you get to the floor where you, or your interlocutor, or both of you have to get off and go your separate ways. The point is to inform the person asking about your business or profession in an interesting, memorable way so that a connection might be made. With an effective elevator speech, ideally, the person listening will feel compelled to either take time to ask you more questions or ask for your business card to follow up, assuming such person has a need for the services or goods that you have to offer.
The term “elevator speech” is a shorthand way of saying that you need to be able, in any setting, to tell someone what you do for a living in a way that is informative and engaging. For example if someone were to ask me at a reception “What do you do?,” and I respond “I am an attorney” or “I am an author” or “I am a partner at the Hoogendoorn & Talbot law firm,” then such a response does not tell them much of anything and I may have missed a business development opportunity.
So there is utility in having a succinct, pithy description of what you do for a living. In most situations, you will have more time than 45 seconds to talk about your work or business.
The elements of an effective elevator speech in my view:
- Illustrative of the kind of work you do
- Memorable enough to differentiate you
My two different lawyer-oriented elevator speeches depend on the audience and context:
1) “I represent executives and professionals who are being hired or fired, or advise companies or organizations that are hiring or firing executives.”
2) “I am a business attorney who makes it possible for executives and entrepreneurs to sleep well at night.”
My first elevator speech’s punch line is the notion that I represent clients when executives are being hired or fired. The subject matter itself catches people’s attention.
My second elevator speech’s punch line is the notion that my business counseling will fix problems and ease the legal stressors for my clients. Relief from stress is always an attractive proposition.
If I am asked for more information, then I will provide a brief description of my law firm (history, size, practice concentrations and location) and maybe an example of a matter that I have handled.
Here are two other elevator speech examples that two intrepid executives have volunteered and subjected to my few tweaks – I have made these executives and their companies anonymous:
A) “We enhance high performing management teams in middle market companies to create the greatest value for private equity investors. I do this at ‘Acme XYZ Company’ where I am managing partner and can bring a lot of resources to each relationship.”
B) “I am with ‘ACE ABC Partners.’ We do executive search and staffing for the insurance industry. We utilize our specialized expertise to find the right talent for our clients so they can remain focused on executing their strategic initiatives.”
You should try out different versions of your elevator speech and ascertain which one seems to elicit the most interest.
What’s your elevator pitch?
Copyright © 2019 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.