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An elevator speech is to oral communication what a Twitter message (limited to 140 characters) is to written communication. It has to engage and interest the listener, inform and/or persuade, and be memorable.Howell, L. (2006). Give your elevator speech a lift. Bothell, WA: Publishers Network. An elevator speechA presentation that persuades the listener in less than thirty seconds. is a presentation that persuades the listener in less than thirty seconds, or around a hundred words. It takes its name from the idea that in a short elevator ride (of perhaps ten floors), carefully chosen words can make a difference. In addition to actual conversations taking place during elevator rides, other common examples include the following:
An elevator speech does not have to be a formal event, though it can be. An elevator speech is not a full sales pitch and should not get bloated with too much information. The idea is not to rattle off as much information as possible in a short time, nor to present a “canned” thirty-second advertising message, but rather to give a relaxed and genuine “nutshell” summary of one main idea. The speech can be generic and nonspecific to the audience or listener, but the more you know about your audience, the better. When you tailor your message to that audience, you zero in on your target and increase your effectiveness.Albertson, E. (2008). How to open doors with a brilliant elevator speech. New Providence, NJ: R. R. Bowker. The emphasis is on brevity, but a good elevator speech will address several key questions:
Table 14.7 "Parts of an Elevator Speech" adapts the five parts of a speech to the format of the elevator speech.
Table 14.7 Parts of an Elevator Speech
|Speech Component||Adapted to Elevator Speech|
|Attention Statement||Hook + information about you|
|Introduction||What you offer|
|Body||Benefits; what’s in it for the listener|
|Conclusion||Example that sums it up|
|Residual Message||Call for action|
You often don’t know when opportunity to inform or persuade will present itself, but with an elevator speech, you are prepared!