7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid in Your Elevator Speech

Crafting an elevator speech can be tricky. You want to include the depth of the transformation that you deliver, but you have about 20 seconds to communicate with someone before you risk losing their focus.

How can you pack all that info into a few short words?

Don’t try. Instead, give your listener enough to intrigue them, and let your elevator speech be the start of a conversation. Eliminating these 7 deadly mistakes will help your elevator speech be a conversation-starter, not a conversation-ender.

Are you making any of these mistakes?

1) Including jargon.

‘Jargon’ is language that is internal to an industry. If you’re a doctor talking to other doctors, you can talk about ‘chem 7’ and ‘intubation’ all day long. (I learned those terms from watching TV!) But if you’re talking to the general public, those terms are confusing, intimidating, and just generally unhelpful.

If you’re a coach, healer or consultant, you’re in an industry with plenty of jargon. Emotional trauma, limiting beliefs, and energetic blocks are not part of the vocabulary of the general public. This means that if you use them in your elevator speech you’ll risk confusing the person you’re speaking to.

If you’re thinking ‘but my ideal client will understand’… that’s possible. But it’s equally possible that you’re speaking to someone who isn’t an ideal client, but who knows an ideal client. If your listener is confused, you’ll never get the referral. Craft your elevator speech without the jargon, so a 7th-grader could understand what you do. You’ll get more clients, and more referrals that way.

2) Omitting your target market.

Your elevator speech will be so much more compelling and memorable if you can describe the specific group of people that you help. Even if you have a product or service that can benefit many people, stating a specific target market elevates you to ‘expert’ status for that group.

3) Using the word ‘you’

If you’re speaking to a big group of people, using the word ‘you’ can help your message feel more personal. When you’re delivering your elevator speech to one person, or to a group of three or four at a networking event, saying ‘I help you…’ can seem invasive.

Instead, put your elevator speech in the 3rd person. For example, say ‘I help women who…’ rather that ‘I can help you to…’. Because it’s less confrontational, you open the possibility for your listener to recommend a friend to you, or to say ‘that sounds like me’.

4) Stumbling over your words.

Practicing isn’t just for musicians. Practicing your elevator speech many times, until it rolls off the tongue, will make you seem more of an expert. Practice in front of a mirror to make sure that you smile, even if you help people with serious issues. You’ll seem more approachable, and more friendly when you smile, and it will actually be more believable that you can help even with tough issues. You’ll also seem like you care that your listener is understanding, which goes a long way to having your elevator speech be memorable. Hint: 50 times is not too many. Seriously.

5) Mentioning the wrong credentials.

It’s great to indicate in your elevator speech why people should trust you. Saying ‘I’ve been doing this for 10 years’ or ‘it’s been my privilege to help dozens (or hundreds) of people with things like this’ is a great credibility-builder.

However, using credentials like certifications and degrees usually backfires. Mostly, that sounds self-aggrandizing, or irrelevant, and doesn’t help your cause. If you’re going to use a credibility-builder, use one that is meaningful to your potential client, not to a certifying board.

6) Calling out multiple target markets.

If you offer services to two different target markets in the same area, consider putting only one in your elevator speech. For instance, if you offer massage, and also have a massage school where you train practitioners, your elevator speech should address only one of those markets.

If you train others, or have a certification program, an alternative is to use that fact as your credential-builder. Here’s an example:

Example 1:

Don’t do this: “I work with stressed-out people through offering massage, and I also work with massage therapists to…” These are very different messages, to two totally different groups of people, so it just comes across as confusing.

Example 2:

Instead, do this: “I work with stressed-out people to bring them (benefit, benefit). In fact, I’m so committed to what I do that I actually have a school that trains others to provide these services.

(The second sentence in the second example isn’t designed to attract clients, it works as a credential-builder. But it would attract clients anyway who are interested in training in those techniques.

7) Making it too long.

Your elevator speech should be 2-3 sentences. Any longer, and you risk losing the focus and attention of the people you’re speaking with.

Instead of lengthening your speech to try to fit everything in, decide on 4 or 5 nuggets that you designate as ‘follow up statements’. So if you give your elevator speech and someone replies ‘That’s interesting’ you can follow up with ‘Another interesting thing about this is…’ and give one of your follow-up pieces of information. Hint: practice these follow up statements as well, so you deliver them professionally and succinctly.

An exception to the 2-or-3-sentence rule is when you’re asking to speak for 60 seconds to a networking group. Then you can expand your elevator speech. Use the same format that you would if you have less time, but expand on the pain points and benefits of your ideal clients.

Your elevator speech should always be considered a work in progress, that changes according to your audience and the situation in which you’re speaking. But having a good basic elevator speech is a key to attracting more clients easily.

Share with me on Facebook: What’s YOUR elevator speech?

3 Responses to 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid in Your Elevator Speech

  1. Carell Mehl says:

    Great timing and also great tips! I am just going to review my elevator speech and tweek it some more.

  2. Debora Cohen says:

    This is Great! I’m going slow but I’m making some shifts. I decided

  3. Beth says:

    txs for the tips! my tag line is in process, here is one example: “I work with inspired professionals who want to reconnect psych and soul to feel better and do better. ” best, sageexplorer.com