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Elevator Speeches

July 24, 2009

By Geoffrey James, Selling Power Magazine – July 2009

Most “elevator speeches” suck. Almost every pitch I’ve heard (and I’ve heard plenty) tries to cram in as much information as possible. That kind of motor mouth behavior is wicked dumb, because if you’re giving a brief presentation, you job is to pique interest, not convey information. You want to land the next meeting, not impress the prospect with your ability to vomit facts.

Here’s the summary:

• Use elevator pitches for cold-calling, trade shows, chance meetings.

• Create six parts: introduction, body (with three points), conclusion and close.

• Give each of the six parts approximately 30 seconds.

• Grab the prospect’s attention with an intriguing introduction.

• Present three points as teasers without much detail.

• Wrap up and summarize in the conclusion.

• Ask for the appointment (the close.)

That’s as good a format for these things as I’ve seen, although you must be careful about trying to cram in too much information. Rule of thumb: Be able to deliver each part in 30 seconds in a tone of voice and speed that you’d use when talking to a not-too-bright adolescent.

Also, if you ask the prospect a question, the time that it takes for the prospect to answer is part of the 30 seconds! Thus, if your introduction is a question, the question needs to be 10 seconds (at most) followed by 20 seconds for the prospect to think and respond.

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