How to Make a Killer First Impression: Your 30-Second Elevator Speech 

You know what your organization does and what your role is in making it happen, but can you describe these things in 30 seconds? In the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top floor of a building to the basement, you should be able to powerfully explain your work to a prospect and have that person want to do business with you and your company or firm. You have less than a minute to make a killer first impression, so what matters is what you say before the elevator doors open.

Preparing for the “Elevator”
If you want to network successfully or grow your business, you need an elevator speech, but don’t let the name fool you. An elevator speech may be hypothetically intended to prepare you for a brief, chance encounter with a total stranger in an elevator, but its value extends far beyond a metal box. You should be armed with it whenever you want to promptly introduce yourself to a new contact. This could come in the checkout line at the supermarket, at your gym, or when you buy your morning cup of coffee. You need to be prepared to describe with passion, precision, and persuasiveness what you do—anytime, anywhere.  

A great elevator speech showcases your uniqueness and professionalism, and allows you to position yourself; however, be careful not to make it sound like it’s all about you, you, you. Who cares that you’re a tax accountant with five years of experience with a big-name firm? Instead, try this opener: “Hi, I’m John Doe. I help my clients decrease their tax liability.” Or, “I help my clients improve their operations and workflow.”

Either statement should have your listener begging for more information, but this isn’t your 30-second speech; it’s just the teaser. If you begin reciting your speech right away, you come across as rehearsed, so when you write your elevator speech, you also need to consider your deliverables. These are the actual services you provide, and the results or impact you and your organization have. Think of it in terms of the benefits your clients could derive from these services. An example of a successful client outcome can add real value here: “I helped a client see a 40% reduction in his business’ tax obligation last year.”

This message should clearly state how you are different from other tax accountants or how your company or firm is better than the competition. It’s a good way of setting the foundation for soliciting an action or response from your listener, such as, “How effectively is your accountant meeting your business or personal needs?”

While your elevator speech should be a concise, carefully planned description about your work and/or your firm or company, it should not be a sales pitch. Don't get caught up in using the entire encounter to tell the listener how great your service is. Your work or that of your organization, not the product, intrigues the listener.

Finally, your elevator speech must roll off your tongue effortlessly. Be relaxed. Practice your speech in front of the mirror. Run it by as many people who will listen. Get feedback from colleagues, clients you trust, friends, and family. Record it and play it back. Do you sound confident and sincere? Is the message engaging? If not, tweak accordingly.

When ready, take your pitch on the road, or into the elevator, whichever the case may be. The results may surprise you!


© 2017 Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. All rights reserved.