Crafting an Unforgettable Elevator Speech
Key Questions to Consider When Constructing a 60-Second Pitch
By: Elizabeth Murray, Causewave Community Partners

You’re waiting in line at a Red Wings game, excited to order a white hot and a cool beverage, when you realize you’re standing next to an old classmate from college.  After exchanging social pleasantries, they ask where you work and what you do.

You take a swift glance to see how quickly the line is moving and estimate that you have all of 60 seconds to answer her question.  Where do I start?  Should I talk about the services we provide?  The clients we serve?  Our mission? How long we’ve been around?  Tick tock. 

As you start to open your mouth, you hear, “Next!” and your classmate waves goodbye. As does the opportunity to make a connection that could help your organization.

We’ve all been in this situation and fumbled our way through a mediocre response, kicking ourselves afterward for not representing our organization (not to mention ourselves) in the best light.

ENTER: the Elevator Speech. 

An elevator speech is a concise but detailed description of your organization that sparks interest and maybe even advances the narrative to a deeper conversation. The idea is that it should be given in the time it takes to ride an elevator, usually 60-seconds or less.

Now, we’re not talking about a robotic, memorized-from-the-company-handbook statement of purpose, full of corporate jargon and industry acronyms.  An effective elevator speech is delivered comfortably and authentically, and contains a balance of emotional appeal, data, and personal connectivity.

When crafting your elevator speech—for work, a board position, or your personal pitch—consider the following questions:

  • What language in the organization’s mission or vision is most meaningful to you?

  • What is the most exciting thing happening at the organization?

  • What’s your favorite mission story (example of someone the organization has helped, impact the organization has helped create)

  • What excites you about working or volunteering for this organization?

Don’t forget, practice makes perfect. This exercise is a great activity at your next staff or board meeting. Or practice it alone and ask for feedback once you’re comfortable.

Once you’ve answered those key questions for yourself and constructed a cogent message, you’ll be ready for that next unexpected reunion at the ballgame.