What’s Your Elevator Speech?

elevatorI moderated a strategy meeting yesterday and a redesign kick-​​off meeting this afternoon. During both meetings, I started the discussion with a simple question: what’s your elevator speech? It sounds so trite and overused to ask about one’s elevator speech, so we did something different.

We asked each person how they would explain their job or company to:

  • Their spouse
  • A high school student
  • A neighbor
  • A member of the press
  • A Fortune 100 CEO

As expected, we got a wide variety of answers.  Surprisingly, the best responses were from people trying to explain their business to a high school student. How can this be?  I think it’s because when talking to a student, we avoid jargon, we use analogies, and we try to explain the most meaningful aspects of our work.

The next time your organization tries to craft or update its elevator speech, imagine yourself talking to different types of people, with different levels of knowledge about your industry, and varying levels of experience with your organization.    Give it a shot and please report back on the results.  If you can, give me examples of the elevators speeches you come up with.

2 thoughts on “What’s Your Elevator Speech?

  1. Great post JP. Developing a concise elevator pitch seems trite at first, and often a bit too “think-​​tankish” for busy organizations, with clients to please, bills to pay etc.

    At my last position, we went through an entire re-​​branding: logo, collateral, mission statement, Web site redesign, boiler plate language, including a new tagline snd elevator pitch etc. (you know the drill). In an attempt to develop a our pitch, our marketing team gathered our entire staff into our conference room and asked, “in no more than a sentence, what do we do?” … I kid you not…Crickets chirping…After late nights of word smithing, and distributing word association surveys…we finally got an amazing finished product.

    But the best part about pinning down that elevator pitch, is the rest is easy from there. Once you can really concisely define what your company is about, you have a thesis for the rest of your branding process, however far you may choose to take it.

    The most valuable thing I learned from that experience, is the importance of involving your entire staff in the process. Everyone has a different insight of how they see their organization…Jim from Accounting, will clearly see things differently than Josh the designer, Susan from HR, or Jen the programmer. Including your entire staff will not only produce some interesting and surprising view points, but it will increase internal morale and adoption of the new branding and strategies your organization is trying to implement.

  2. I like this tip a lot, Joanna. Tell a high school student. Great concept. Go for keeping it simple, in plain, easy to understand language. How about adding a dash of mystery, too? Then the listener says, Really! Tell me more about that.

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