Select the right words. Say them well.

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If you have just a few seconds how do you describe your work? Think about it. The elevator speech is meant to captivate someone in just a few seconds – as if you were riding down from the CEO’s office in an elevator and had just a small window of time to explain your value.

It is more difficult than you might think because most of us explain our work in ways that make sense to us, not necessarily others. Now it’s time to either come up with a great elevator speech or dust off the one you’ve been using and make it better!

What do you know about your audience? Any important piece of communication starts with this question. And for the elevator speech a big part of your success is your preparation for the big moment. Never use the exact same elevator speech for everyone just like you must never send the same resume’ out for every job opening. Personalize, fine tune and wow them with the connection you can make between what you do and what is important to them! If you just take this one step you will be head-and-shoulders above most everyone else already.

Keep it short. Remember, you are fitting your message in to a very confined space! Discipline and practice will make it possible for you to say it in just a sentence or two and the affect should be, “Wow, that’s exactly what we could use!” If you go on for 90 seconds there are too many layers for them to sort out.

What your Elevator Speech should NOT include: Many times people get “Mission Statementitis” when they think of an elevator speech. Business –speak terms like “added value” “going forward” “deliverables” “win-win” suddenly end up in what is supposed to be a simple, straightforward message. Lose it! Also, it should not sound like a commercial or sales pitch. Instead you are telling them what you are passionate about, without the feel of a “sell.”

An example: I try to follow my own advice when I’m called upon to deliver an elevator speech, so I’ll use my work as an example. Most times, when I have just met someone and don’t know how I might help them I offer the broadest version of my speech: “I help people when they stand up to speak.” Simple and to-the-point, even though not everyone stands up when they speak – the idea is instantly communicated in – and this is important – A SINGLE SENTENCE! If I know something more about them it might sound like this: “I help you become the very best you can be when you stand up to speak.” Or, if they need more of a wow, it might come out this way: “We make sure you are outstanding when you stand up to speak.” A little bit of the sales pitch, but a confident message is sometimes what your future client needs to hear!

Have an example or stumped by what to say on the elevator? Shoot me a note and I’ll continue our discussion in a future Monthly Memo!

Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: cary@clear-comm.net.