The Elevator Speech:
How to Get to the Core of What You Do
By Arvee Robinson
Your core message, which is also called an elevator speech, is at the very essence of what you do. If you have one, it might be time to brush it off, tweak it a little and make it even more powerful than it already is. If you don’t have one, it’s time you did.
Think of it as your soul, the soul of your business and the soul of what you do. If you want to connect soul to soul with other people, whether prospects or clients, you need to come from that place. That’s why I call it your core message.
All speeches about your business will come from your core message because your core never changes. It could change a little over time as your business grows, but the essence of what you do for people will withstand time.
So let’s create that killer elevator speech that goes right down to the core of your business and to the core and soul of the people who hear it.
How do you create a core message that is so magnetic that when people hear it, they want to immediately do business with you? How do you make it so fantastic that when someone asks you what you do and you tell them, they immediately drop their guard and want to know more? That’s what you want from this little 25-second or less speech.
When people come to a networking event they are usually guarded because they know people are going to try to sell to them. Someone’s going to go on and on about their business and try to pitch to them. Oftentimes, people come in with invisible hands over their ears and their heart. Your job as a business owner is to say something so magnetic, beneficial and solution-oriented that those invisible hands drop and the heart is uncovered.
Throughout the years, I have studied and learned different ways to create this audio-postcard (a term coined by one of my mentors). I can pretty much identify who has studied with whom by how they begin their dialogue. I also have found that the time allowed for it is getting shorter and shorter. We used to have somebody’s attention for a minute, but now it’s about 10 seconds. You can test this yourself at networking events.Arvee Robinson, is The Master Speaker Trainer, International Speaker, and Author. She teaches business owners, service professionals, and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy so they can attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses, effortlessly. She teaches a proven speaker system for delivering persuasive presentations, and easy formulas for creating killer elevator speeches and magnetic self-introductions. Arvee has helped hundreds of individuals to win clients and close more sales every time they speak. She offers private coaching, workshops, and weekly teleclasses. Her programs will make you money for the rest of your life.
For more public speaking tips go to: http://www.instantprospeaker.com
When I was in corporate America in the 80s, I ran a very prestigious group, called Provisers. It was very high-level, a good old boys club, made up of people with a book of business: consultants, bankers, CPAs, and attorneys. I was one of three women recruited to lead one of twelve chapters. I got to observe my own members every month. After studying it for many years, I decided to put together a formula that they could copy, emulate and create a core message of their own to get proven results.
I started doing this work ten years ago. I would help people create their core message because God has given me the gift of words. In many cases, I would work with someone and something brilliant would come out of my mouth and I would share it. It would be brilliant because it didn’t come form me. I give God all the credit. Together we would build a beautiful core message. Unfortunately, two months later the person would say the same old stuff that hadn’t worked in the first place.
I realized that it wasn’t about me providing the words. It was about me providing the structure, or the framework, or the road map, whatever you want to call it. In this case, it’s a formula that lets my clients come up with their own words.
Now you’re going to come up with your own words and create your core message. I want to show you the process I go through when I coach my clients.
Create your core message
Take out a piece of paper and get ready to write the following down. On that piece of paper write a very large T. At the top left, write FEATURES, and then on the right, write BENEFITS.
At my local Chamber I spent some time talking to a woman who had a new dog bathing business. Even though she told me, I couldn’t quite get what she did. She just kept talking about the features of her business. Her ten seconds speech was “give your dogs a bath and we’ll clean up the mess.” I thought what are you talking about? I’m not in your business so I don’t know what that means. The long and the short of it is that you take your dog to bathe at her business, so you don’t have to dirty your own bathtub and don’t have to clean up the mess afterwards. It’s a great concept, but it took about 10-15 minutes to get what she does.
In most networking situations, you don’t have time to explain what you do. You want to be concise–about 10 seconds, because that’s the attention span people have today. You can test this as I have. When I network, I try to give my longer version and as soon as I hit on the word “public speaking” I see them check out. They don’t do this on purpose, but they automatically assume they know what I do by that key word. I can see it in their eyes.
Never share the “how” of what you do in your elevator speech. When you talk to people, remember that people buy the solution, so that’s what you focus on in your core message or elevator speech–the solution that you provide.
Three rules of thumb:
1. Stay away from fluffy words that don’t have any meaning. A lot of real estate professionals say, “I will help you realize your dream.” What does that mean? That means nothing. It’s not tangible.
2. Stay away from over used words. Back in the 80s, people used the words “paradigm shift;” such as, “we’re going to create a paradigm shift in your business.” Now it’s “we’re going to take your business to the next level.” What next level? What does that mean? It means nothing. Absolutely nothing.
3. Pick words that create word pictures, visual words that people can see. Use words like “home” instead of “house.” Change your words. You can’t see “maximize your profits,” but you can see “a ton of money” or “a boatload of money.” Those are visual words. Those words create word pictures.
Now look at your paper with the T on it with FEATURES and BENEFITS at the top of the page. In 30 seconds, write down all the descriptive words you can when you think of your business. Write down what is a feature and what is a benefit. The more you write down, the more ammo you will have for creating your elevator speech. You won’t use all of them, just the ones you need.
For example, the woman with the dog business kept saying that she provides the shampoo. This is a feature, not a benefit. I could have cared less about the shampoo. She thought that the benefit was that she would clean up the mess. It is a benefit, but it’s not enough of a benefit for me to pull out my money, go and see her, wash my two dogs and spend $35-$40. What do you think the benefit would be?
You want to make sure that you’re creating a benefit that people really want.
Three things people want are: 1) more money, 2) better relationships and 3) better health. You need to just focus on one of those three things. If you’re in a network marketing company, don’t create a core message with money, opportunity and product.
Always remember to let your audience fall in love with you first, then your products and services, and then any money opportunities. It’s kind of like dating. You don’t go right to home base on the first date. Some people may, but if you want a long-term relationship, that’s probably not the best way to get it. Take your time, get to know your customer, court them, woo them, and pay attention to them.
Write down in your own words what best describes your business’s features and benefits. Jot them down as quickly as you can. That’s the first step. This allows you to put your own words on paper. Now, pick the best of those words.
As a gift to you, I’m going to give you my sure-fire, five-step formula for creating your core message or elevator speech.
1. Use “I” not “we”
A mistake many people make is when someone comes up and asks them what they do, they say “we” because they feel like it makes them bigger, like a bigger company. Oftentimes, they are part of a larger company so it is “we,” but when individuals ask what you do, they are asking you personally. When you say “we,” you’re putting up a block in front of you or you’re stepping back from them. There’s disconnect between you and the person. You don’t want to do that.
When someone comes up to you, those first few seconds are precious because they will tell everything about you, whether you like people, whether you care about them, or whether you’re friendly. Whatever it is, in those first few seconds, if you don’t make eye contact, or you’re busy with your phone, or you reach for a business card, you are going to lose potential clients. I repeat: you are going to lose potential clients!
Everything you do in those first few seconds, and what you say afterwards, counts. Look them right in the eye. Smile and say “I” because they are talking to you. They want to know what you do in that corporate structure or company, because they are interested in you.
It takes a lot of courage for people to ask, “What is it you do?” Whether at a networking event or a grocery line, it takes courage because they don’t know whether they’re going to be embarrassed, cut off, or made to feel bad; they just don’t know. When you were a child your parents told you not to talk to strangers, but now you’re in the business world and expected to talk to strangers. It’s very challenging. Keep this in mind and be very kind and gentle. Make people feel warm, welcomed and even loved, if possible.
2. Use an action verb.
What are some action verbs that describe what you do? Use verbs like “educate,” “work,” “teach,” “redefine,” “show,” “provide,” “demonstrate,” or “discover.”
Stay away from using the verb “help,” if you can. Here’s why. When you create your elevator speech or core message, you want to be different from others. You don’t want to follow the crowd. Tony Robbins says, “Good isn’t good enough; you have to be outstanding.” Meaning you have to stand out from the crowd in a networking event if you want business and want to get noticed.
I have often found that everyone in the room starts out with the same words. “Good morning. My name is blah blah. I help people blah blah.” The verb “help” reduces you to a helper. You don’t want to be “the help.” You want to be the teacher, coach, or mentor. You want to be at a higher level. Decide how you want to be seen and dare to be different.
Now you have a list of verbs that describe what you do. Pick one that works for you right now. You may need to change it later because it must go with “the what” of your speech, which you haven’t gotten to yet.
3. Identify your market
Who do you serve? Who is your target market? Who do you provide solutions for? The closer to your niche you can get, the better.
Is your market Baby Boomers or women between the ages of 35-65? Is it business owners with $5,000,000 in sales or companies with 100 or more employees? The more specific you can be, the better off you are because people will know exactly to whom to refer you. It doesn’t have to be just numbers. You can be even more specific.
For instance, you can have fun and be clever with this when you identify your market. If you are in the health field, then who is your target market? It isn’t unhealthy people. Unhealthy people will stay unhealthy until they get that wake up call. For the most part, it’s healthy people who want to be even healthier. They are your target market.
You can say, “I work with people who want to be healthier” or even better, “I work with healthy people who want more vibrant health on a daily basis.” In this way, you expand your target market. Perhaps you want to work specifically with business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants or coaches. Expand your market by using these titles.
If you think what you do is for everybody, it’s for nobody. There is no such group called everybody.
4. The What
What is it that you do? What is it you’re providing?
Stay away from industry jargon, such as, “I offer therapy to dysfunctional couples.” Nobody really wants therapy. They might need it, but no one really wants it. They certainly don’t want to admit they are dysfunctional. If you’re a financial planner, don’t say, “I analyze your finances for peace of mind.” People don’t want a stranger analyzing their finances. Not at this point. This is your first meeting, your first encounter with someone. You have yet to build rapport.
Also, stay away from “the how.” This is not the time to say how you do what you do. If you have the solution to someone’s problem, they won’t care if you tell them to jump off the highest cliff in a bungee jump, as long as they are guaranteed the results that they want.
You don’t say how you do what you do in your elevator speech. Some people assume they already know and turn you off, when they could be a prospective client. Remember: People are shielded. They are covering their ears and their hearts. You don’t have their walls down yet.
Let me demonstrate. This is my core message: I teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy.
Let’s break it down:
I (not ‘we’) teach (my action verb) business owners and entrepreneurs (my target market) how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy (my what).
I know my action verb “teach” works by removing my target market from the sentence. For example: I teach how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy. This is a little test that you can use to be sure you have the right verb. Just test that your statement makes sense by taking out the target market in the sentence.
Now, write down your “what.” If you want to use numbers here you can. If you do financial planning, you might say, “I teach an easy five-step system to build wealth.” Or, “I provide an easy five-step system so you can keep more of your money.” Is that a good “what”? Yes! There can be benefits in that “what.”
The “what” comes from the FEATURES side of the paper. This is where you put it in your elevator speech.
Now comes the big enchilada right here.
5. So they can . . .
When you say, “so they can,” it’s like the heavens open up. People will lean in and listen. It’s like that old commercial I heard when I was a little kid: “When EF Hutton speaks, everybody listens.” It is such a profound statement that I use it all the time.
[Note: Beware of using colloquial phrases or metaphors when you’re speaking in a foreign country. When I used my EF Hutton example in Egypt, my audience didn’t know what I was talking about. Keep that in mind.]
Use the phrase, “so they can.” Do not use “so that they can” or “so he or she can.” This is a formula. Use the formula in the way that it was designed because it is proven. I’ve taught this formula to over 5,000 people who’ve had amazing results. Use it for at least 90 days before you modify or change it. If what you’ve been saying has been working for you, fine. But if it is not, try this because I know this works!
Select words from your BENEFITS side of the paper. Circle three benefits that you put down, which are your solutions to people’s problems.
For instance, if a financial planner says to me he will give me “peace of mind,” I wonder what he means. I already have peace of mind. The reason why I would invest with a financial planner is to grow my money so that I can live in the same lifestyle that I’m accustomed to and do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want. That’s the bennies!
Whatever your benefits are, I want you to really stretch yourself. Really stretch to identify what people want and how you have the solution. If a financial planner tells me he’s going to “build my nest egg,” this is a benefit, but I want to know more. This doesn’t tell me enough. You need to drill down to discover your benefits.
What is it that your clients really want? Take a few minutes to write the “so they can” and add up to one, two, or three benefits (no more than three). This whole core message is like your singing a word song and painting a word picture. Come up with some exciting combination of words that will really open up people, because they don’t often hear good words. Remember: People want easy and quick. Take a few moments for this. This is the big enchilada!
This is my full core message: I teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy so they can attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses–effortlessly.
Now write the rest of your core message.
Here is an example of a core message from one of my clients:
I provide socially conscious individuals and businesses with collaborative cause awareness marketing campaigns so they can acquire and retain the highly lucrative and socially conscious consumer market.
Doesn’t that make you curious about what this person does? Don’t you want to know more? That’s all this core message is meant to do. Get people curious so that they let down their armor and have a conversation with you.
Here’s another one that I love:
I teach children to love and succeed at math so they can earn A’s, feel confident, and get into the college of their choice.
That’s very clear and specific. Who doesn’t want their children to earn A’s, feel confident in math and get into the college of their choice? Great benefits!
Now that you have created your core message or elevator speech, you are ready to start successful networking. This is the first speech you will need. It is the most important speech you can create because it’s your core. The stronger your core, the stronger everything else will be from there.Arvee Robinson, is The Master Speaker Trainer, International Speaker, and Author. She teaches business owners, service professionals, and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy so they can attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses, effortlessly. She teaches a proven speaker system for delivering persuasive presentations, and easy formulas for creating killer elevator speeches and magnetic self-introductions. Arvee has helped hundreds of individuals to win clients and close more sales every time they speak. She offers private coaching, workshops, and weekly teleclasses. Her programs will make you money for the rest of your life.
For more public speaking tips go to: http://www.instantprospeaker.com