By: Dustin Hickle
When I was in school at Grace CollegeI was fortunate to be a part of a program called OSI (The Orthopaedic Scholars Institute). The program has evolved a few times, but, when I was there, it was primarily an interview preparatory program with a focus on getting its members into the Orthopaedic Industry in Warsaw, IN.
We spent countless hours learning to speak in an interview and answer questions without saying "um" or "uh" so we sounded professional and made a great impression. I remember one specific instance where I was asked to talk about suitcases to the group (about 20 students) for 60 seconds. I was given no other instruction, but I couldn't say/use any filler words (um, uh, er, like, etc.). On my first try, I said "uh" after 40 seconds and had to start over. On my second try, I spoke more confidently and with more conviction. I shared why I loved suitcases (who loves suitcases?), the different types of suitcases, and how I packed my suitcase when I traveled to Arizona to play golf. Before I knew it, I had made it to my goal of 60 seconds! I received a nice round of applause and returned to my seat with a feeling of total relief.
We also spent weeks working on our personal elevator speeches. We learned about the importance of having a specific, well-rehearsed speech that told others about ourselves, our skills, and our future goals that would be memorable and make a great impression. It was difficult at times and often required a lot of practice, especially when I wanted to avoid using filler words! I wanted to present myself confidently and with conviction, but I wanted to avoid seeming desperate or arrogant. Needless to say, it was a good skill to develop.
A lot of the skills I learned while rehearsing my personal elevator speech have carried over to how I answer the questions "What do you do?" or "Where are you working now?" I use the opportunity to share what I do as a chance to market 212 Media Studios because I am passionate about what we do here. I want to be descriptive, concise, informative and confident when I answer this question without overloading my listener. There are a lot of pieces to organize when creating an excellent elevator marketing pitch, but the most important is the structure.
Let’s start in with the structure of your speech. According to an article by HubSpot "it is important to start out by explaining – in one line – what your company, product, or service does." For me personally, describing 212 Media Studios looks like this – Q: “So what do you guys do?” A: "Well, we do a little of everything! (slight chuckles) But we really do! We generally classify ourselves as storytellers and marketing consultants. We specialize in branding, website design/development, graphic design, and social media management. But we also do traditional marketing, media ordering, marketing consultation, video production, professional photography and just about any special project our clients need!"
Yes, my explanation is longer than one line, but I kept it as concise and descriptive as possible and avoided using terms and lingo that wouldn't make sense to the average person. Chances are you know what your company does (go figure…) so just take a little time to put it into words that are specific and descriptive!
A word of advice: Avoid the pitfall of boredom. Be sure to tell your listener what you do without dragging it out. Try to read facial expressions and body language. If a certain topic really piques their interest, feel free to break away from your “script” and expand a little more on that topic. If you sense the person is starting to glaze over (you know that feeling), wrap it up!
Why not take some time to put your products/services into an effective and descriptive elevator speech this week? Try to craft it to be around 15-20 seconds long while still sharing exactly what you want your reputation (brand) to be with your listeners. You only get one shot at a first impression, so make yours count with a well-developed and practiced elevator speech!