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English Speaking Skills: How to Write an Elevator Speech

English Speaking Skills: How to Write an Elevator Speech


The term “elevator speech” first became popular during the early days of the internet explosion, when companies that won cash from venture capitalists were often those with a simple pitch.  The best could explain a business proposition in the time it took occupants to arrive at their floor on an elevator.  Now, an elevator speech can be any short speech that sells or explains an idea, promotes your business, or markets you as an individual.

But how do you write such a speech?

The top tip is to know your audience.  Research your audience.  You’ll succeed in making a positive impression if your elevator speech clearly targets the individuals you are talking to.

Also, know yourself.  Figure out your proposition.  Define exactly what you are offering, what problems you can solve, and what benefits you bring to a prospective contact or employer.

Here are some places to start.  Answer these preliminary questions to form a frame about you:

  1. What are your core strengths?
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe yourself?  How would others (your supervisor, you colleagues) describe you?
  3. What are you trying to ‘sell’ or let others know about you?
  4. Why are you interested in the organization the person represents?

Then outline your talk. You could use these questions to start your outline:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I offer?
  3. What problem is solved?
  4. What are key contributions I can make?
  5. What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?

Now to finalize your speech.  The key to this is to expand on the notes in the outline and write out each section in full.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Take each note and write a sentence.
  2. Connect those sentences with additional phrases to make them flow.
  3. Change any long words or jargon into everyday language.
  4. Cut out unnecessary words.
  5. Finalize your speech by making sure it is no more than 90 words long.

The final tip is the same as the first tip: know your audience.  Adjust to the people you are talking to.

Next time: more tips on “elevator speech” and a sample!

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Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Rerun from 02/12/2014 and 03/15/2017

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