ELEVATOR SPEECH :
THE ART OF PERSUASION
Whether you call it an elevator speech, an elevator pitch or an elevator statement, there is only one goal for this little speech: to convince!
The art of convincing is a complex one. In a context of ultra-fast exchanges where every second is counted, the difficulty of creating an impact adds itself to the necessity of being concise.
We therefore quickly realize that we will need a method to get through this potentially tricky oral exercise.
Think Manners offers you a 4-step process to guide you through this preparation, so that you succeed with flying colors.
1- Know your objective
The objective is both simple and complex. It is to hold the attention of the person whom you are speaking to, so that they can get to know you, or a project you are advocating for.
If you manage to be sufficiently convincing, then you will have succeeded in raising the interest of your counterpart, and who knows where this conversation may lead: to a new job, a promotion, the signing of a contract?
But if you don’t succeed in presenting yourself clearly and simply, some doors may close. That would be a shame.
There are many advantages to using the Elevator Speech exercise:
– It forces you to ask yourself questions, particularly about the objectives you really want to achieve
– It forces you to think deeply about your background and motivations
– It allows you to formalize your thoughts and once they are well recorded on a sheet of paper or in the memory of a computer, it is much easier to refer to them and to pick up your thoughts where you left them.
The objective is therefore twofold: to tell others who you are, but also to tell yourself!
2 - Sorting out
Make haste slowly; and, without losing courage, put your work back on the job twenty times: polish it constantly and polish it again; sometimes add, and often erase.
– Nicolas Boileau –
Everything is said in this quote from the famous 17th century French poet and critic. An elevator speech is not written hastily, in the blink of an eye, for the simple reason that it is largely an exercise in synthesis.
Synthesizing personal elements relating to your personality, your background, your experiences, your passions, your talents and your projects requires precision and reflection.
You will only have a very short time to present yourself, the time you spend in a lift between two floors (hence the name Elevator): 30-40 seconds at most?
Saying everything in such a short time is simply impossible. A fairly simple method would be to :
– Start by not filtering anything, i.e. write everything you want to say. Who am I, my age, my origin, my background, what I do today, what I want to do in the future, why I am embarking on certain projects, what causes are close to my heart, what hobbies, sports, languages I practice, etc.
Be as exhaustive as possible so as not to forget anything and don’t be afraid to go into detail at this stage with examples.
– Then go back to your notes and select the elements that you think are most relevant to the question you are asking. Ask yourself questions like: should I mention this particular project to prove my interest in the job? If not, eliminate that item from the list.
– Once the selection is made, you have to put the elements you are going to keep in the right order. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, at the end you should be able to form an image of yourself that is truly you. Check, for example, that the elements follow a logical order.
– Finally, writing is the last step, but it is not the easiest. You have to find the right words and use short sentences to make the most impact. Make sure your text does not exceed the famous 30 seconds of the lift.
Boileau was quite right: go back over your text several times to refine it and make it pleasant to deliver and listen to.
3- Avoid a few pitfalls
This may seem obvious, but it is absolutely crucial. The grammatical and syntactic quality of your speech must be impeccable. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of credibility. A poorly written Elevator speech, full of mistakes, is likely to get you eliminated very quickly. Let’s also remember, even if it goes without saying, that any vulgarity is to be avoided.
So don’t hesitate to use all the online proofreaders you can find, or better still, ask someone you trust to do a final proofreading. In most cases, of course, you will say your speech orally, but it must be well constructed in writing first.
Presenting yourself or a project is a serious exercise. Moreover, not everyone has the same sense of irony. Some people have no sense of irony at all. Moreover, making a joke that falls flat would be all the more unwelcome as you can be a little tense when you have to speak. So keep it simple, no risky attempts at humor to avoid making the atmosphere even heavier than it may already be.
It is sometimes tempting to try to make a strong impression by using sophisticated vocabulary that is not widely used. This would prove to be counterproductive as you could come across as a little arrogant when you would rather be noticed for the relevance of your speech to the content.
If your interlocutors are just stumbling over the form, then the objective of the Elevator speech is far from being achieved. On the other hand, if your business is very technical and the use of specific terms is necessary, remember to define them as simply as possible so as not to discourage your audience.
4- Practice makes perfect !
To sound as natural as possible and not give the impression that you are searching for words at the key moment of delivering the pitch, the secret lies in rehearsal. Like an actor who endlessly rehearses his part before the performance, it is very important to practice your speech well.
There are several options available to you:
– start by practicing alone in front of the mirror. This removes all the pressure of having an audience present. You can then check your posture, your gaze, your hand gestures. You can memorize your text better and work on your pronunciation for as long as necessary to give yourself every chance of being understood by your audience. A stammered speech, where half the words are mumbled, would be incomprehensible and your audience will lose all interest.
– do a few sessions with family or friends who are willing to listen and help you. The presence of people you know well will be more reassuring but will also add a little pressure, thus improving the quality of your preparation.
Writing an Elevator Speech is a relatively demanding exercise, but it is so useful and powerful! Making this investment in time, thought and rehearsal ensures that you will be able to show your best self at key moments in your career, whether it is already well underway or just beginning.
So get your pencils or touch pens, fill your notebooks or tablets with your best ideas: talk about yourself, now is the time, make the most of it!