A Good Elevator Speech Can Help You Maximize Opportunity

Written by Mary Zimmerman
CIRAS PTAP Government Contracting Specialist

All it takes is a few good seconds to make a positive first impression and grow your business.

However, those few seconds can require hours of preparation to look natural, confident, and enthusiastic. And even then, it doesn’t always work. For example, at most meetings, conferences, and networking events, people are asked to introduce themselves and talk about their company. This is their time to shine! But many miss their chance at free advertising because they are uncomfortable or have trouble explaining what they do or sell.

How do you avoid a wasted opportunity? The answer is to have a prepared elevator speech.

The term “elevator speech” refers to what the situation mirrors—being in an elevator with someone you want to impress. You’ve only got a few floors to make that impression. What would you say to a contracting officer, elected official, prime contractor, or potential customer? Are you ready to quickly and professionally describe the solutions you represent and the expertise you can deliver?

An elevator speech should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. It also should explain what makes you—or your organization, product, or idea—unique. A solid elevator speech will distill down to the purest form of exactly who you are, what you offer, and what sets you apart from all the other competitors.

How do you put one together? Later this year, CIRAS will offer a workshop that will teach you how to develop and deliver the five key elements of a good elevator speech:

  1. Who and what you are
  2. What you specialize in
  3. What you do
  4. Why you’re the best at what you do
  5. What you want (a call to action)

Presentation is just as important as what you say. Practice your elevator speech OUT LOUD, focusing on inflection, projection, and nonverbal (body and facial) expressions. When you can present it smoothly, you’ll be on your way to making the most of your opportunities.

> For more information, contact a government contracting specialist with CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). Mary Zimmerman can be reached at maryz@iastate.edu or 515-450-1278.