The Elevator Speech

Often you only have a few moments with someone who you think may help your cause. Having a good elevator speech is a way to immediately engage donors and can be used by staff and volunteers alike to enlist others in your cause. 

First you need to remember it is not really a speech, just a good solid connection with another person, delivered in a timely fashion. Here are my Six C’s for a good elevator speech:

  1. Concise
  2. Clear
  3. Comfortable
  4. Captivating
  5. Connected
  6. Call to Action

Concise – Be brief but meaningful, 30 – 60 seconds is all the time you have.  In 2015 Microsoft did a study that found the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds, so you have just a few seconds to really engage them. Otherwise, you are wasting their time and yours. (The study also found the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds, so that puts us in perspective.) 

Clear – Have clarity in defining what your organization does, without statistics or technical explanations. You move quickly to keep them engaged. Details can come later when they are engaged and asking specifically for these.

Comfortable – Practice will make you comfortable. You are not making a hard sales pitch here. Make it personal and be kind, open, and sincere.

Captivating – Grab their attention. Your short-and-sweet message is so compelling that they will be engaged to hear more.

Connected – By being clear, comfortable, and captivating you will create a connection with some part of their life. How does what you are doing coincide with their values. Connected people will become more curious of what you are doing.

Call to Action – The strength of your call to action is vital. How can they make a difference? Often the best way is asking an engaging question.

That seems like a lot to fit in under a minute. So how do you make a good elevator speech that satisfies each of the six C’s? Below is a simple template for you to follow:

We do [the solution] for [target] so that [end goal].

Create a sheet with three columns: the solution, the target, and the end goal. Brainstorm as many possibilities for each and then use the best to form your elevator speech. Some basic guidelines are:

  1. You are shooting for 30 to 60 seconds, without sounding rushed. (Remember simplicity is harder to create than complexity.)
  • Detail your goal simply and what you are doing to achieve it. (Shun any statistics or technical explanations, there is a time for these later).
  • Identify what makes your approach unique. (Avoid being self-centered).
  • Show them how they can help. (How they are a part of the solution).
  • Ask an engaging, open-ended question. (And be ready with answers).
  • Have your business card in your pocket ready. (Or your contact information).
  • Practice, practice, practice. When you are relaxed you come across clearly. (Refrain from being repetitive, awkward, or pushy).

A good elevator speech is an invitation to further conversation, not a sales push. Follow these simple rules and you too will have an effective elevator speech for everyone in your organization to use.

I hope that this article has inspired you to craft your own elevator speech. If you want to test drive yours, or have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at .

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