Even the most well-crafted elevator speech -- a 30-60 self-introduction that explains who you are, what you do and why it matters to a potential business contact or employer -- can fall flat without a strong finish. Your closing should issue a strong call to action. It should also be fluid enough to adapt to a number of situations.
Ask for a referral, an interview or for their permission to call them later -- at a trade show or in a taxicab, or any other instance where time is limited. This opens the door to follow up at more length. "Our designers specialize in eCommerce websites. May I call to set up a presentation?"
Ask a question when time allows. Get information about your new contact's business and build rapport. One of the best ways to do so is to ask questions. The best questions are open-ended and spontaneous: "How would you describe the role of your web site in your business?"
Finish with a flourish that ignites the listener's curiosity and makes him want to know more. Ask yourself "Will these words linger?" It should be simple and sincere, concise and compelling. Think of a tagline. A tagline is succinct, memorable and descriptive. Here's one from a company that designs web applications: "We make the web a better place. We love it and so will you."
Edit your speech with your delivery in mind. It should sound like your natural speech patters. Practice it both on co-workers and, to ensure clarity, people not in your line of work. Know your message well enough that it flows spontaneously, rather than memorizing it, to be ready when the occasion arises.
Tips & Warnings
- End with a flourish, not a shrug. Never weaken your message with a "Well, I guess that's it."
- Allow your "speech" to evolve. You'll undoubtedly find ways to improve it with practice.
- Make sure your elevator speech communicates the same message you deliver in other key marketing materials. It's just as much a part of your "brand" as your website and your print collateral.
- Speech differs from the written word, and your delivery should never sound like you're reading it.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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