Who Talks on Elevators Anyway?
A frequently asked question that I get at speaking engagements is, “What is your elevator speech?” Or, I’m asked to help someone craft an elevator speech. Here’s what I don’t like about elevator speeches: They’re canned. They are a one-size-fits-all recitation that’s not going to win anyone any business.
It’s not that I’m down on being able to articulate what you do. I’m just not a fan of one-size-fits-all solutions. I’ve only heard one that I really appreciate. It’s from my good friend, Joe Scott, MAS, of Scott and Associates Inc. in Chanhassen, Minn. He says, “I help my clients get customers.” It concisely answers the question, “What do you do?”
You need to be able to answer the “what, how, where, when and why” briefly and appropriately. First, the listener or asker must really want to know. Getting to your "what" involves knowing what problem you solve. Joe obviously solves a client acquisition problem. You may solve an employee retention problem, a brand awareness problem or an engagement problem. We all have tools to solve many problems, but be like Joe and pick the one you’re best at.
Can you tell someone “how” you do your “what”? Can you do it succinctly? Can you do it without saying the word “product”?
You might tell them that you get to know your clients and their businesses and their challenges, and you craft solutions to fit their particular situations.
Your “where” and your “when” may be the simplest answers (and least-asked questions). Locally, regionally, nationally, internationally? At a showroom office, online or in their office? "When," of course, is right now, and I’ll be happy to help you with next year’s event too.
Your “why” can be your most compelling answer to the question that is never asked, but one that everyone wants the answer to. People want to see that you are passionate. They want to feel your love of what you do. If you sweat passion and bleed enthusiasm for your calling, customers will flock to you. People will want to help you because people love people who give it everything.
Are you willing to dare to live out your “why”? Don’t wait for permission to start. Know what drives you and let it steer your course. My "why": to challenge and inspire people so that we can realize our full potential.
And next time we’re on an elevator, let’s chat it up.