The Elevator Speech

Wikipedia tells us that the “Elevator Speech” is:  “…a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.”

The idea is simple:

You get on an elevator in the lobby.  Someone else joins you in that elevator and asks you the simple question:  “What do you do?” or “Why do you do what you do?”.

You have as much time as it takes the elevator to get to the 4th, 6th or whatever floor it is you or the other person is going to make your presentation, your pitch.

If it’s not compelling, the person will step off and never think about it again.  You have just a few seconds to articulate your passion, your purpose, your goals and your strategy.

Does this sound impossible?  It’s really not.

Everyone needs to have an elevator speech ready.  Here are some simple tips:

#1) Know Your Business

If you don’t know why you do what you do, then you’ll never be able to communicate it.  Know what drives you.  Know your passion.  Know your purpose.  Then, write that out in short sentences and look for the best words that communicate this.  This is your purpose statement.

#2)  Know Your Audience

Even to the person you meet in the elevator, you need to know who you’re communicating to, then you can target the message to them in a way they understand.  What is it that you do that connects with that person?  What are their hot buttons?  What is their passion and purpose?  The more you know, the better the message.

*I have a pretty “neutral” elevator speech that I use with people who I don’t know.  If they connect with something in that speech, I can then get more detailed and personal.

#3)  Practice Your Speech

Take this seriously!  I encourage you to practice communicating as articulately as you can in as short of time as you can.  Learn it, memorize it, try it out on some friends or people you work with. Good communication takes practice!

#4)  Follow-Up

Be prepared to create some follow-up.  This might be an e-mail, handing them your business card (be sure to have these on hand!), pointing them to your website.  You may need to follow-up with a phone call.  If there’s interest, be ready to follow-up, and I encourage you to follow-up quickly.  People tend to forget pretty quickly a 1-minute conversation that took place in an elevator.

Be ready! You never know when you’ll have a quick opportunity to share a little about your work, your organization and your passion. Get this down.  You’ll use it!


Russ Cline has wide experience in church, mission, and global leadership. Beginning in the local church in Southern California, then moving to Ecuador for 16 years to be a part of launching three distinct organizations, Russ is now back in Southern California working with Extreme Response International in providing leadership coaching and organizational development to leaders around the world. Russ' passion is to come alongside organizations and to help them identify areas of growth, focus and change, resulting in greater impact and effectiveness. Russ graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Business and Christian Education and completed his graduate work in Organizational Development. He has been married for 31 years to Gina, and they have three kids: Rheanna, Riley and Raylin. To learn more about Russ, visit: Write directly to Russ at: twitter: leadwithruss, leadermundial

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