An elevator speech is a personal mini-infomercial that tells people who you are and what you do. Elevator speeches are not meant for selling your products and services. The goal is simple: People hearing it should know exactly what you do. Clarity is not optional. When they know what you do, they can make a decision to have conversation with you about your offering—or not. If they have a clear understanding of your expertise, they can refer others to you.


There are two distinct audiences for an elevator speech:

1. Group

2. Individuals

There also are different goals:


Whenever we attend one of those functions where we have the ‘opportunity’ to present our elevator speech, the goal is:

• Everyone hearing it has a very clear understanding about our offering.

• They should not be trying to decipher what they just heard. They should get it immediately when we deliver it. If they are confused by what we said—it’s over!

The ideal result of the group elevator speech is that people approach us during a break or after the event, ask a few questions, and agree to set a time and date for a conversation.


These elevator speeches are given in planned and unplanned settings. They happen continually when we meet new people.

• Planned or unplanned, one goal is to disqualify the person you’re having a conversation with. If the person you’re speaking to has no interest in what you do, find out sooner rather than later. If that’s the case, move on to another person and start disqualifying.

• The second goal and ideal result is that the individual stops us from talking and says, “Wait. It sounds like you offer something I might need. Let’s connect in the next few days and set a time to meet and continue this conversation.”


1. Elevator

Personally, I’ve never given an elevator speech in an elevator, and don’t know anyone who has. That said, the notion of getting your speech out quickly, makes sense. The length should be between 15 and 60 seconds.

The other thing about an elevator is that it goes up, one floor at a time. It became obvious that an elevator speech should be crafted, floor-by-floor! Furthermore:

• Each floor should convey specific information.

• Start simple. As interest grows and time permits, move to the “next floor” and give more specific information.

• For the group setting, we want to take everyone in the room to the top floor, and give them all the information we’ve crafted for our ultimate elevator speech.

• Where there are time constraints, some floors can be skipped.

• For the individual/face-to-face setting, we start on the ground floor, and want to take them up, one floor at a time, only if interest is shown after we speak.

2. Speech

An elevator speech is a mini-presentation. It is a speaking opportunity and an important one!

Since it is a mini-presentation, it should have many of the same components, parts and elements of the kind of presentation delivered before an audience in a seminar. Let’s look at them:

Content: Your message, the information on each ‘floor’ of the elevator speech template.

Delivery, or presenting that message to a group or individual. The delivery of the elevator speech, like the delivery of a good presentation, should be conversational.

As is true in any presentation, delivery trumps content. Thus, how you deliver your elevator speech is more important than what you say; and what you say—in an extremely short time—is very important!


1. Audience

The size of the audience can vary from one-on-one to small and larger groups.

2. Who is delivering the elevator speech?

People deliver elevator speeches for themselves (employed or unemployed); their workplace (for-profit or nonprofit)

3. Time

Depending upon the venue, the elevator speech could be as short as 15 seconds to as long as one-and-a-half minutes.

4. Not just for Elevators! Be prepared to use it on:

• Escalators

• Moving sidewalks

• Stairs

• Sidewalks


Future columns will pick up on the elevator speech topic, covering:

• How I developed an elevator speech template that works well for me—and will work for you.

• How to deliver one.

• Bonus tips to take your elevator speech from Blah to Ah!

 'Till then, make next your presentation…NO SWEAT!

Fred Miller is a speaker, presentation coach and author of NO SWEAT Public Speaking! For more information, email him at Fred@NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com or visit NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com.

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