Crafting an Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in yourself. A good speech should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. It should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. It also needs to explain what makes you unique. Because networking can happen anywhere, you should always be prepared to introduce yourself and talk about who you are and what you want to do. You never know when that conversation can lead to a new contact or even an invitation to pass along your resume.

An ideal time to share your elevator speech is during introductions at career fairs, expos and recruiting events. When preparing for an event, be sure to research the companies you are interested in and tailor your speech so it is relevant to your audience. For example, if you are talking with a smaller company, you don’t want to share how you are interested in working in a large corporate environment.

Follow these steps to create a great speech, but bear in mind that you’ll need to vary your approach depending on who you are speaking with and what you are trying to accomplish.  Start by thinking about the objective of your speech. For instance, do you want to just get information from this person? Do you want to get an internship or a job? Keep your goal in mind to give your speech a direction to go:

  1. Your name and major/degree.
  2. What you do or what you want to do.
    • Prepare a single sentence that gives insight into your approach and the type of value you deliver.
  3. Why you’re the best at what you do or why you want to work in the industry you’ve chosen.
    • Prepare a single sentence that differentiates you from others.
    • It might be a technique you’ve developed, your specific experience, or even your personality that sets you apart. What makes you special?
  4. Call to action.
    • What are you trying to achieve here? Are you trying to build your network, obtain a job or internship, learn more about a specific career field or company?

Now that you have your outline of material, you can finalize your speech. Connect your sentences to make sure they flow together, make sure you are not using words that people from another field will not understand and cut out any unnecessary words. This is an example of how your elevator speech might sound:

Hi, my name is ______. I am currently a _______ (classification) majoring in _________. I’m interested in ____________ and have experience in ___________________. I am seeking to find a _________ (internship, full/part time job) for the ____ (fall/spring/summer) semester.

It can take some time to get your speech right. You’ll likely go through several versions before finding one that is compelling and sounds natural in conversation.  Practice, practice, practice until you are comfortable with what you have to say about yourself so you can pull out this tool at a moment’s notice.