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How’s Your Elevator Speech?

How much time do you really spend thinking about your elevator speech? Do you have one, or more than one? How much thought have you put into it?

Prior to attending a session on the subject at an ABA Marketplace, I thought I had a good one—but I quickly learned I had a lot to learn. So, why don't we spend more time preparing? Most people don't know what to say, or have a fear of speaking in public. (Or they think they could just shoot from the hip, like I did.) When 15 seasoned sales professionals shared their elevator speeches with the entire group, it became obvious that no matter how seasoned you are, there's a lot to learn before giving a good elevator speech.

The natural first question most people ask—the typical icebreaker—is, "What do you do?" You have less than thirty seconds to make an impression when asked, so it's critical to make your answer count. It's important to understand that the average person doesn't care about what you do. What they do care about is what you could do for them, and how you could make their life easier. Think about what you do and how it will directly benefit the person you are talking to: Now, you have the start of your speech.

Here are a few more tips to help you get started.

Keep it simple. Avoid using buzzwords and acronyms. Be sure that you could describe to a fifth-grader what you do. People will pretend to know what you do when they really don't, so make sure you are speaking the language of the masses.

Be concise. Don't worry about telling someone everything you do or everything your destination or attraction offers. By focusing on one thing, you have a better opportunity to capture someone's attention and to continue the conversation. Too much information frequently turns people off, and you'll lose their attention.

Differentiate yourself. People want to know why you are different. Be sure you know what makes your destination, hotel and attraction different from that of your competitors.

Once you've identified what you should say, you must Practice, Practice, Practice. Too often, people are put on the spot and get easily rattled. What they intended to say doesn't quite come across, and something of value gets missed. You probably think this sounds silly, right? However, I saw firsthand what happened to 15 seasoned sales professionals who shared their elevator speeches in front of a group.

It's time we all started practicing!

Written by Kasie Smith, publisher of Groups Today magazine.


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