So…What is it that you do exactly?! A quick guide to developing the perfect elevator speech

By Christina Welty, MA

If you’re a fan of the show “Friends”, you’ll most likely remember the episode where Monica and Rachel make a bet that they know Chandler and Joey better than Chandler and Joey know them.  Ross comes up with a game show and leads them through a series of questions; the last one is “What is Chandler’s job?” Monica and Rachel start shouting things like “it has something to do with numbers….and processing….and he carries a briefcase”.  Finally, Rachel shouts, “He’s a transponster!”

Working in association management sometimes feels like I am a transponster (not a real word by the way!).  It never fails, I’ll start a conversation with someone at a party, at a networking event, on a plane, (you name it!) and they ask me what I do. Unless the person also works as a volunteer or on staff at an association, I’ve found it hard to put into words.

In cases like this, it’s important to have an elevator speech. What is this you ask?  An elevator speech is usually 30-60 seconds at most – short enough to say during an elevator ride – and is an icebreaker that should leave the listener wanting to hear more.

Here are a few quick tips to create an elevator speech:

ID-100888611. HAVE A GOAL
What do you want to get across to your audience?  Keep in mind that you may want to create several different speeches so you can cater to different people.  For example, you would probably have a more casual – “what do you do for a living?” speech prepared for family members and close friends versus telling someone you meet at a networking event about your organization and how you could potentially work together.

2. EXPLAIN WHAT YOU DO
Start with what your organization does. How do you help people and/or what problems do you solve?  Make it interesting!

For example, Partners in Association Management offers full service management to their clients, which includes member services, marketing, government relations, certification, meetings & trade show management, publication management, etc.  We deal with the day-to-day operations of non-profit trade associations and professional societies so our members can focus on the vision they want for their association.

3. WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION?
Identify what makes you, your organization, or your idea different from others.

At Partners, we could say that our firm is one of less than 75 accredited Association management companies in the United States – the only one headquartered in Florida! – and that we’ve also been recognized in the Florida Trend as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Florida” for the last three years. Happy employees = productive employees!

4. KEEP THE LISTENER ENGAGED
No one wants to listen to you give a canned speech for very long. Make sure to have a couple open-ended questions to involve them in the conversation.

After mentioning the Florida Trend’s “Best Companies to Work for in Florida”, I could ask something like, “What types of things does your company do to make it a better place to go to work every day?” or “What services do you offer that make your company unique?”

5. MAKE IT PRETTY AND WRAP IT IN A BOW
Take steps 1-4 and pull it all together. Read it out loud, time it and keep it to 30-60 seconds. Remember to leave them wanting to hear more.

Here’s an example of my final product:

Partners in Association Management specializes in working with state, regional and national not for profit associations. We offer member services, marketing, government relations, certification, meetings and publication management, you name it!  We deal with the day-to-day operations so our members can focus on the vision they want for their association. Instead of an association having its own headquarters, Partners has the ability to share overhead costs with other association clients, which saves you money. We’re one of less than 75 accredited association management companies in the country and currently manage 19 associations – most have been our clients for more than 5 years.  We were also recognized in Florida Trend as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Florida” for several years running.   

“What types of things does your company do to make it a better place to go to work every day?”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It may feel strange (ok, it will feel very strange!), but practice your speech in front of the mirror and with friends and colleagues. The more times you say it, the more comfortable you will feel! You never know if the person you’re talking to might be responsible for your next new client or project!  Most importantly, after talking to the person, they’ll never confuse you for a transponster again!

ChristinaWeltyBio

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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