What is the essence of elevator speech?

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The essence of ‘elevator speech’.

Answers from Elena Ornig

Writing speech

Answering your questions.

To answers the simple and common question: “What do you do?” you logically have to summarize who you are and what you can offer as a professional; or underline the core of your business and its benefits. To simplify my sentence above I could just say, sell yourself or sell your business; not literally, but to get a job, to get a promotion, to get more business or simply to get professional recognition. Such activities are usually associated with a considerable period of time but what if you come across the opportunity to meet the same result but in a very short period; needless to say, when you meet somebody in an elevator.

The opportunities that I am indicating above are becoming more and more common in our life. Business meetings, conferences, meet up groups, conventions, trade shows, presentations, workshops, book launches, Chamber of commerce meetings, seminars, business functions, training activities and many others; these are categorized as networking activities. These activities give you an opportunity to have presence to communicate for potential personal or professional benefit; to communicate to exchange information to create social and professional contact.

The contact is directly reliant on time, and the time duration of a contact can be as short as a few seconds to as long as a few minutes, but it will be your time to present yourself: who you are and what you do. This will be the time for your elevator speech.

The shortest elevator speech is 15 seconds and the longest is three minutes. The question is:  “How many words you must have in your pocket to make your powerful introduction confidently and positively?” The answer is this:

15 seconds: 40-45 words;

30 seconds:  80-85 words;

60 seconds or 1 minute: 170-175 words;


The shortest elevator speech is 15 seconds and the longest is three minutes.

2 minutes: 340-345 words;

3 minutes: 500-520 words.

For a short elevator speech you need a simple frame: your name, your educational background and your professional experience. What is important here is to be confident, enthusiastic, clear and point-blank. That is why in a short elevator speech you concentrate on getting across just one comprehensive point:

The simple structure for short elevator speech includes:

  • Introduction (grabbing attention)
  • Body (comprehensive point)
  • Conclusion (short version of what you already said)

Just remember that an elevator speech is the same as a simple message with the only difference being your elevator speech has a deliberate agenda. The agenda is to be remembered, to get noticed or to get more business.

A long elevator speech can be built on a more complicated structure because of more time being available for its delivery.

The structure of a long elevator speech gives you the opportunity to present more rifle points: two or even three.

A three minutes elevator speech structure will look like this:

  • Introduction (grabbing attention)
  • Body (including two or three points that can be presented as ideas or even arguments)
  • Conclusion (wrapping up all you said in the introduction and body)

As you can see, this is not complicated if you know and understand time and structure of an elevator speech, anyone can do this; however, it’s not what you do rather how you do it. Elevator speech is not for forcefully pushing something down a person’s throat or trying to talk someone into a course of action. Elevator speech is the ability of a messenger to plant a seed (comprehensive point or points) in the receiver’s head to let it grow. Some even suggest that elevator speech is the way to program other peoples’ minds to remember and comeback to the messenger.

Whatever you like to believe, the advantage of having a good elevator speech, or better still a few short, mid-size and long ones, at your finger tips, is unquestionable. If you are in business you better have it, and to have it you better learn a bit more about what makes an elevator speech memorable.

Read the next article “What makes elevator speech memorable”

Or brief yourself first – where the term “elevator speech” came from?

My warmest regards,

Visit Elena’s profile on Pinterest.


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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.

Website: http://www.elenaornig.com/