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Elevator Speech

The purpose of the elevator speech is to hold your audience’s attention, demonstrate your confidence, convey information about you and why it matters to your audience and, most importantly, secure a follow up meeting. You have less than two minutes – below are some things to consider. Once you are ready with some draft language start practicing and timing your speech. Ask a friend to listen and offer a critique. Better yet, ask a business professional whom you respect to listen and provide you with feedback.

Necessary components – your elevator speech should:

  • Describe 4 to 5 key skills or qualifications you possess (such as leadership, management, communication, analytical or technical skills).
  • Summarize your experiences to show how those key skills have worked for you in the past.
  • Provide a memorable illustration of your most impressive accomplishments.
  • State how your qualifications can best serve an employer.

Three questions that you should address in your elevator speech:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why should I believe you?
  3. Why should I hire you?

Answer 1. Who are you?

Your opening sentence is your introduction. Look your audience in the eye and say your name clearly. Then quickly describe your background – skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (S.K.A.B.) – relevant to the company and the position you seek.

Selectively discuss commonly desired skills such as verbal communication, decision making, problem solving, organization, analysis, computer software, writing, and selling.

The knowledge could come from college coursework, internships, or other job experiences and it should be relevant to the employer.

Attitudes include work ethic, optimism, determination, resilience, and goal orientation.

Behaviors include a track record of consistently improving skills and hard work to achieve a goal.

 

Answer 2. Why should I believe you? 

Credibility is key and it comes from providing examples of what you have done and the results produced.

A helpful acronym is S.T.A.R. which stands for situation, task, action, and result.

You should be prepared with a story that illustrates a particular skill or attitude. The story should relate an experience when you were called upon to meet a challenge or complete a difficult task.

Provide details on the skills needed to complete the task and details as to how it was completed with a positive result. The story could discuss how you set a goal, encountered a difficulty, the steps were taken to overcome the difficulty, and a result showing the goal was achieved. It is a good idea to discuss quantifiable results, such as a specific percentage increase in revenue, reduction in costs, or improvement in efficiency.

 

Answer 3. Why should I hire you? 

The third question requires that you do homework on the company from its website and articles written about the company.

Be aware of public reports, for example: goals or challenges the company may be facing, or values espoused by the company in its mission statement. Pay attention to the adjectives used in the advertisement for the position for the attributes of a successful candidate (see S.K.A.B. above).

Once this homework is done, prepare a short speech indicating why you are the best candidate for the position. Lastly, like all successful salespeople, “close” by asking for the job. Most candidates end their chances at this point by failing to indicate that they want and deserve the job. A statement such as “I believe that, with my skills, attitudes, abilities, and demonstrated ability to achieve results, I am the most qualified candidate for this career opportunity. I am very interested in joining your firm and being part of the team that achieves the goals that you outlined. I’d look forward to another meeting to discuss more in detail how I can help your firm meet its goals. What are the next steps in the selection process? How would you like to be contacted when I follow up with you?”


Some examples of elevator speeches:

Hi. My name is _______. I am a junior, Interdisciplinary Business major, at The College of New Jersey. I know you are looking for entrepreneurial, goal driven, business oriented people, who love sales. Let me share with you a few stories that illustrate why I am the right candidate for your firm.

When I was in third grade, my teacher was looking for a way to entertain the students for the last week before summer. She introduced us to the “Business Unit,” where each of us were to create our own “stores” from magazine cut outs. At the end of the unit, we would sell our products to classmates with special checks made specifically for the unit. This opened my eyes, at a very young age, to the wonderful world of business, and from that moment, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I spent the entire summer following, creating my own business called Bandit’s Biscuits, a healthy, homemade, natural dog bone business. I was making, packaging, advertising, and selling dog bones. By sixth grade, I negotiated, hired, and trained a baker in Trenton to make fifty pounds of biscuits a week. I am registered with the State of New Jersey, paying taxes, and am online, selling internationally. From Bandit’s Biscuits, I have learned how to be focused on my goals, be driven, and how to achieve those goals. In high school, I joined the marching band. At our first practice, I looked up and saw the drum major leading the band. Instantly, I knew that was what I wanted to do, and immediately following the first practice I told the director that  I wanted to be drum major my senior year. I then asked him to help me plan out a map to reach this goal. The director worked with me so I could reach my dream. I’m proud to say that, after much hard work, I led the band as drum major my senior year. This demonstrates my enthusiasm, drive, and ability to think outside the box.

All of this leads to my college career. I am a manager in Residential Living, which require strong communication, inter-personal, and management skills in order to successfully help the students that I am responsible for. I am a waitress at a very upscale restaurant, where my selling skills result in a high level of up-selling and tips. I intern at the Small Business Development Center, where I successfully launched a widely attended networking event  I suggest that we meet soon to discuss some of my other experiences and accomplishments which will illustrate how my values, character traits, skills, and personality make me the best candidate for your company’s position.

Hi, my name is ________ and I am a Senior Marketing Major at The College of New Jersey. My objective is to pursue a challenging sales career with a top firm like yours, leading to advancement in sales management. I have always had a desire to assist other people and put their needs before my own. Before entering TCNJ, I had an interest in teaching. But at the time, I wasn’t sold on teaching, so I decided to enter the business school. I took a course in professional selling that led to my genuine interest in the profession of sales.

During the fall of my sophomore year, I got involved in Pi Sigma Epsilon, a professional business fraternity specializing in sales, marketing, and management.  I really wanted to place in the Top 5 in their 2010 national sales-role play competition. Although I knew I was competing against several talented students from some big-name schools, I was confident in my ability to make the Top 5. Instead I placed in the Top 20 out of about 80 contestants. I was disappointed in my result and became more determined to accomplish my goal the following year. That next year, I competed in the 2011 National Competition and placed in the Top 5. I came in 1st place. To this day, I hold that to be my single greatest individual feat.

I also had two remarkable Software Sales Internships with IBM. I honed my selling skills prospecting and scheduling meetings at large accounts based in New Jersey and New York. I enhanced my planning and organizational skills during internal sales strategy sessions and subsequent client meetings. If given the chance, I’m very confident that I’d become an important asset to your company and deliver value to your clients. Given my background and experience, I think that I would be the best match for your company. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my qualifications. I’d look forward to another meeting opportunity to discussing more in detail how I can help your firm meet its goals.

An example of a military elevator speech:

My name is John/Jane Doe. My supervisors have characterized me as a highly organized, dedicated, and results oriented manager. In the Army, in my capacity as an ordinance platoon sergeant, I managed a 30-person team that provided maintenance and logistical support for a 150-person company. It was my objective to reduce repair time by 10% and re-supply time by 20%. I exceeded those goals after careful analysis of operations, and elimination of inefficiencies. My bachelors degree in management from Penn State University enhanced my business analysis skills and organization skills. I believe that I would be a very productive member of your team, and welcome the next steps to discuss my qualifications.

Last tips to improve your elevator speech:

Tip 1: Have an eye-popping opening:

Student example: I led my club to a 30 percent increase in membership and a 20 percent increase in fundraising.

Military example: “I managed a team that provided all logistical support to service members in Fallujah during the Gulf War, leading to a 30 percent reduction in delivery time.”

Tip 2: Follow up with your transferable skills:

Student example: In my summer job, my sales were 40% above quota.

Military example: “I led the team in developing a more efficient process for shipping equipment that reduced lead time by 12 days saved the military $300 thousand of dollars.”

Tip 3: Request what you’d like the person to do:

“I would like the chance to contribute to the success of your firm utilizing the skills and attitudes that led to my success in the past.

Tip 4: Give one last quick pitch to get to the next step:

“All of my training, education and experience make me an ideal fit to help your company achieve its objectives.”

Tip 5: Practice your pitch:

Go over it repeatedly so you’ll feel ready to drop it in naturally at any point in a conversation. When done properly, it is extremely effective.


External sites outlining the content of books about elevator speeches include: