When I’m addressing an audience about the subject of ‘elevator speeches,’ I’ll ask, By a show of hands, who—within the last year—has tweaked their elevator speech? Immediately, many hands go up. I’ll continue, In the last six months? Six weeks? Six days? As I’m speaking, you are…?

If you’re like most people, your hand would be raised throughout my questioning. I struggled with mine for years. It was always a work in progress.

We’ve all been there: We’re attending a networking event, social function or seminar, and the leader announces, Before we get started, let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves. Tell us who you are and what you do. Give us your elevator speech.

At this point, I’m not making eye contact with the leader and hoping upon hope someone jumps up and exclaims, “I’ll go first!” Ultimately, someone starts delivering their elevator speech, and we feel like a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.

Unfortunately, that instant of comfort usually is followed by thoughts of, Oh no! What if the person ahead of me delivers one of those ‘killer’ speeches, the kind everyone oohs and aahs over? That will be worse than being first! That frightful thought usually is followed by a quick glance to the person next to you, and guessing how well they will do when it’s their turn.

Thus, the speeches begin; and they’re usually all over the place in quality and quantity.

A Few Good Ones

Occasionally, we hear some excellent ones that get straight to the point. The person delivering tells us: His/her name; their company’s name; the products/services they offer; and something that distinguishes them from others in the same field.


Hi, everyone! I’m Bob and I’m an estate planning attorney. This is all I do, and I’ve done it for more than 25 years. I’ve written a number of articles and pamphlets on the subject. You may have read some of them in local publications. Living wills, trusts, inheritance laws—I’m an expert in all of them. If you haven’t done estate planning, or want a review of the plan you have, let’s have a conversation!

Bob seems to know what he’s doing: He’s established credibility—a good thing! After hearing his speech, we can make a decision if we want to know more or not. If we do, we’ll catch up with him later.

The Really Quick, Short, Boring Ones

These give the minimum amount of information, and nothing that grabs our attention or interest.


I’m Johnny. I’m in accounting. If you need accounting work, call me.

So what? You’ve told me nothing that distinguishes you from your competition, or gives me any reason to think you’re good at what you do. Why would I want to meet you later and know more?

The Long, Long, Long Ones

At the other end of Quick, Short and Boring is the individual who rambles on and on.

If they offer 10 products, they’ll tell you about 15! They give several ‘case studies’ about how their product or service changed peoples’ lives. When they finally sit down, they’ve left little time for others to present within the time allotted for this exercise.

You’ve experienced these, haven’t you? It’s an obnoxious elevator speech, and I can’t imagine wanting to spend more time with them! If you really were on an elevator, you’d be prying the door open or hitting the emergency button!

The Please Sit Down! Elevator Speeches

These either give far more information than anyone wants to hear, take more time to deliver than allowed, or are so far from what an elevator speech should be, that we’re better not hearing them.

The Cutesy Ones that Don’t Say Much

These folks think they can ‘tease’ you into wanting to know more about them and their offering.


I’m Robin, the financial ‘plumber’ for all your financial troubles. Work with me and I’ll help you flush them out of your life!

You’ve got to be kidding! What you told me is too vague. I don’t want to know more!

The Business Opportunity Ones

These people are usually looking to build a down line for their multi-level marketing (MLM) business. MLM works for many people, but please, tell us very clearly what you do!


I’m Susie and I went from being $50,000 in debt to making $10,000 a week—and I’ll show you how to do it!

One of my problems with this type of is that I don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Again, if it’s a business opportunity, tell us in the elevator speech. For some in the audience, that might be a perfect fit.

We’ll continue the elevator speech topic in next month’s column. '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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