“So, what do you do?”
For most people, that’s an easy question to answer:
- I’m a lawyer
- I’m a teacher
- I’m a mechanic
- I’m a dentist
- I’m a …
Done! More often than not, the person asking the question is satisfied with the classification and moves on to another topic.
But for some folks, it’s not that easy.
When they get the question “What do you do?” they fumble, trying to come up with words that best describe who they are and what they do for a living.
Perhaps they belong to a profession less known to the public, or they’ve left the beaten path of careers in favor of something less conventional.
Whatever the case may be, if they had an elevator speech in their back pocket, they’d be ready to say who they are and what they do, without falling over their own words.
What is an Elevator Speech?
The elevator speech, also known as an elevator pitch, is a brief statement summarizing what you do and how it benefits others. Typically, it’s no longer than the time it takes to ride an elevator; usually around 30 seconds.
The original elevator speech comes from the world of business.
The idea was this; prepare a short, concise, and persuasive statement, in case you find yourself sharing an elevator ride with an influencer. The elevator pitch served as an opportunity to introduce yourself, inform the influencer of your interests, and let them know what you could do for them.
While the elevator speech originated in business, today it has a much wider application. And regardless if find yourself in a business or social situation, if you need to communicate who you are, what you’re about, and what you do, you need to have an elevator speech to fall back on.
Why have an Elevator Speech?
That’s easy; it’s about being prepared, and that applies to anything in life!
When you’re prepared, you’ll act with confidence. But when you’re unprepared, it’s easy to lose confidence! And when you act without confidence, you may lose out both, in business and social life.
Another reason for having an elevator speech is ever-shrinking attention spans. You may only have a few seconds to get attention and catch someone’s interest. If what you say doesn’t pull them into the conversation, chances are they’ll move on and give their mental energy to something else.
Clarity! When you take the time to prepare an elevator speech, you will have clarity about what’s important to you and what you want to share with the other person. If you’re not clear about your goals or what your business is all about, creating an elevator speech will help you figure it out.
Business networking. When you’re building and growing your business, you’ll find yourself in various networking situation. Some will be by design, while others will occur naturally.
If you don’t know what to say in these situations you’d be losing out. It’s critical that you’ll be able to create and hold interest. Your elevator speech must communicate the essence of who are, what you do, and establish the benefits of working with you.
Personal, social situations. When you meet someone, invariably the “what do you do” question comes up. If you’re in a well-known, easy to classify profession, no problem.
However, when you belong to a profession not as easily classified or not as well known, it’s a different story. You may be met with a blank stare and silence after sharing what you do.
This may still happen to some Nurse Practitioners. People may not understand what a nurse practitioner is or does. And that’s where an elevator speech comes in handy; it clearly communicates what it is you do and the value you provide.
Create Your Elevator Speech
As I said earlier, an elevator speech is a short, concise statement about what it is you do, what sets you apart, and who you can help.
Before you start, get clear on what you want to communicate and why. Because if you’re out networking to find a new job, your elevator speech will be different then when you’re networking to grow your business.
Here are a few tips to help you create a strong and effective elevator speech.
For starters, keep it short and simple. There’s no need to get fancy here; simple words will do just fine.
Create a short and simple statement explaining what it is you do and include who the people are you can help.
For example, if you’re a Nurse Practitioner providing pain management, you might say something like…
“I’m a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Pain Management. I work mainly with adults to reduce their pain, regain function, and get their life back on track.”
That may be all you want and need to include in your statement; it’s clear, brief, and leaves plenty of room for a conversation to develop.
Additionally, it’s easy to remember and should roll off your tongue rather naturally, without making you feel uncomfortable or falling over your own words.
Practice Makes Perfect
It’s not enough to create your elevator speech alone. You must know it inside out, internalize it. Because when someone asks you what you do, you must know exactly what to say without feeling any hesitation or discomfort.
So, go ahead and practice your elevator speech every day. Say it until it becomes second nature and you feel comfortable with the words. And once you are, you know you have mastered your elevator speech!
What about your elevator speech? Do you have one? Why not share it here… we’d love to see it.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“