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Event Managers: How to Write an Elevator Speech

When elevator speeches are authentic, a little bit goes a long way!
When elevator speeches are authentic, a little bit goes a long way! Image by

An elevator speech is defined by Wikipedia as a short sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces you. Now that we’ve got the formal definition down, let’s talk a little bit more about elevator speeches and why they’re important. It’s dubbed an elevator speech because it’s meant to last about the same amount of time as riding an elevator with a stranger. Ideally, your speech should clearly, concisely state the benefits of the skills or service you provide. It should also highlight what makes you unique. Considering how creative and diverse a career in event planning is, this is especially important for event managers. Elevator speeches give you a chance to snapshot your unique niche and the services you provide.

Whether you’re planning to attend a networking event, communicating with your staff, or reaching out to new clients, a killer elevator speech makes an important early impression. Of course, it’s no substitute for having excellent networking skills, such as being a good listener and asking open-ended questions. (There’s a whole lot more to say about networking, but that’s a whole other post!) Still, elevator speeches are important to event managers. Because most everyone in this society is dealing with information overload on a daily basis, it’s helpful for people to have a way to find out what you’re about in a pinch. If your elevator speech is intriguing and original, your business will attract the “right” customers for your niche- and a lot of buzz.

Event managers: If you have yet to perfect the art of the elevator speech, this post is for you. Here are some tips on how the craft the ultimate speech!

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The Basics: All About Elevator Speeches

Every event manager has experienced some form of social anxiety throughout his/her career. It’s an occupational hazard, and it’s pretty much unavoidable. Even the most confident extrovert- someone who is almost never shy and has a genuine ability to connect with new people- occasionally feels a nervous thrill when walking into a room. Networking events for event professionals are varied and diverse. That means that event planners are exposed to new situations more often than people who work in many other industries. And with newness comes a certain amount of anxiety- it’s normal.

That’s where an awesome elevator speech can save the day. It’s easier to become flustered when anxious; your thoughts become disorganized, and suddenly you’re at a loss for words. We always recommend setting specific goals that you want to achieve at a networking event. And if you have specific contacts whom you want to approach, it’s a good idea to research them before meeting. Just like you set goals for attending each network event, you should be setting goals for your elevator pitch. Ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish with my elevator speech? Is it connecting with new contacts, tapping into sales leads, or attracting clients? Whatever your goals, keep them simple and consolidated. It could be that you’re just starting out as an event manager or are new to the networking scene. In this case, maybe all you want to accomplish at a networking event is to get a feel for it and connect to more people in your industry. That’s completely okay, and it helps you build social and networking skills. Practicing these things is a worthy goal on its own!

Yet even if you come fully prepared, social butterflies can still stroke, rendering you speechless...except not entirely. Not if you’ve come armed with an effective elevator speech.

In this post, we're going to talk about live and audiovisual elevator pitches that you can post on your website and social media pages. First, let’s examine how a powerful elevator speech is written and delivered in person at networking events, conferences, and the like. We advise that you start small by identifying the basic questions your contacts will likely ask or wonder about. Obviously, you want to start out by telling people who you are and what you do. You also want to share your job title. Last but certainly not least, you’ll close your speech by telling your contacts how they will benefit from the conversation you’ve initiated. (Of course, you wouldn’t use those words, but rather explain in your own words the benefits you’d like to make them aware of. At this point, you might include your event niche (or niches) and target audience. All of this should be done in 30 seconds or less. (We promise it’s not as impossible as it sounds- if you’re clear on the information you want to share, summarizing it concisely does the job).

The information you share must be brief enough as to keep their attention. But it should also include what you view as the most important things you want to share with potential networking contacts or clients. But even the most clever, intriguing elevator speeches will flop if the delivery is wrong. Well, let us clarify something here: There is no wrong way to present yourself if you’re relaxed and sincere (unless your speech is long-winded or poorly organized, that is).

The point is that when it comes to networking, a little bit of genuine enthusiasm goes a long way. If you believe in your business and the benefits it offers- and feel passionately about your work- people will feel that. And they’ll be more likely to trust you. The great Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Although your goal is to be genuinely yourself, your goal is much like an actor’s when practicing an elevator speech. In the weeks and days before you use it in person, you should be practicing your speech out loud at least once or twice per day. This way, you’re not just reading it mentally, but getting a feel for how it sounds aloud. For example, if it sounds too stiff or automated, take a few deep breaths or meditate your way into a relaxed state. Then allow your genuine enthusiasm and positive feelings about your work come through...and give the speech aloud again. It can be helpful to picture a friend’s face when you relate information about your business. If possible, you can even give the speech to a friend or two out loud and get their feedback. This way, it’s more likely to flow naturally from you, and you’ll feel more comfortable saying it when the time comes to use it.

It can’t be said enough: Avoid going into a monologue about yourself. Yes, it’s wonderful that you are doing the work you love and want to share it with others! But if you go on for too long describing your background and who you are, you’ll lose the other person’s attention, and block the give and take process of networking. You don’t have to plaster on a grin from ear to ear; it’s enough to simply smile, remember to breathe, and let your body language flow naturally. (Here’s where having practiced saying the speech to a friend pays off). Remember, networking events are meant to benefit both (or all) parties. That’s why you need a good balance between listening and talking. If you’re in the moment and genuinely enthusiastic, this flow will come more naturally than you might expect.

When you’re sharing who you are, what you do, and what’s unique about your business, you don’t want to sound like you’re reciting information. Instead, you should put your own personal touch on it to let your originality shine through. Think of it as sharing a brief story about who you are and what your business is all about. The storytelling trend in experiential marketing applies here, too. These days, people like to personally identify with the businesses they interact with. Therefore, something about your elevator speech should relate generally to a large amount of people. For just one example, if you’ve got a rags to riches story, you can take a sentence to tell how this fits into your values system. (You’ll go into more descriptive detail when you write your mission and values statements. Hint: If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get started on that front, too).

The more you practice writing and talking about your business, the easier it becomes. Human beings are creatures of habit, so while practice may not make “perfect”, perfection is not your goal. Authenticity and originality is what makes people want to learn more about and engage with you.

On-Camera Elevator Speeches

Although the basic structure remains the same, on-camera pitches may have slightly different goals...and a much different delivery.
Although the basic structure remains the same, on-camera pitches may have slightly different goals...and a much different delivery. Image by

The structure of an on-camera elevator speech is no different than a live one. But the delivery is. There are many benefits to face-to-face contact that on-camera speeches don’t have. In person, you’re connecting directly with your contact (s). Did you know that verbal communication occurs far more often on a daily basis than verbal communication? When two people make eye contact, react to each other’s body language, and hear each other’s tone, all of this naturally facilitates connection.

On video, you still need to engage genuinely with your audience. In fact, because you lack the advantage and personal quality of face-to-face conversations, it becomes even more important to be genuine. That’s because your goal is to make an emotional connection without direct contact- and with a broader audience. The importance of setting goals takes on added importance here, too. Your goals may be similar to the goals you set for live speeches, but they will also be markedly different. With on-camera speeches, your goals encompass one or more niche audiences, not just a few contacts. It’s less complicated to research individuals than it is entire niche audiences. But with the right skills and resources, it’s well worth your efforts.

If you’ve managed other events before, you can look to your data for clues about your niche audience. If you’ve been asking open-ended questions on your event surveys (and you should be), you have access to more personal, in-depth information about your attendees than you might realize. Also, take a look at your social media pages. If you’ve been using social media to engage in meaningful conversations and build long-term relationships with your audience, then you already have a wealth of information. What are their shared interests? What do they feel strongly about? Once you’ve identified what your audience really cares about and what their values are, use that information in your elevator speech.

Some questions you might ask yourself: Of the things your target audience and networks care about, which ones do you feel strongly about as well? Find the part of your story that relates, and include it in your elevator speech. If they have liberal values and you do, too, share the fact that inclusivity is important to you. Do you make environmentally conscious products? If so, it’s likely that a large percentage of your target audience prioritizes conserving the environment.

Also, recall what you learned about your audience at networking events you’ve attended. Spontaneous, direct conversations often give you more insight into people than the data you’ve recorded over years! (Of course, the data is important, too; it gives you perspective about a broader audience, which is what you need for on-camera speeches).

However, you don’t need to try to please everyone with your elevator speech. In fact, being too general reduces your emotional impact and gives you a generic feel: Your audience has heard it all before, and they’re looking for something that stands out. So remember, you’re marketing to one or more niche audiences, not to everyone. Specialization is the real key to your success in today’s experiential culture. Millennials especially value experiences over material possessions. In the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s to a degree, it was about what you have. Now it’s about who you are.

So naturally, potential contacts and clients patronize businesses that they can emotionally relate to on some level. It won’t surprise you when we tell you that audience engagement is more important than the revenue your content brings in. This applies to every part of your marketing strategy, including your elevator pitch.

Ideally, one of your goals should be to combine creativity with data and analytics. As we mentioned, you can look to previous data to learn about your audience and how to connect to them. But don’t forget to use data analysis to find out just how much audience engagement (and yes, revenue) your elevator speech is bringing in.

More on Storytelling

Storytelling is a great experiential marketing strategy. Here’s how it can pack a powerful punch into your elevator speech.
Storytelling is a great experiential marketing strategy. Here’s how it can pack a powerful punch into your elevator speech. Image by

Since we didn’t want to digress into a long tutorial about storytelling as a marketing schedule, we mentioned it only briefly. But if you choose, you can use storytelling as the format for your entire speech. Now that you know how to create in-person and on-camera elevator speeches, we leave the subject with one more piece of advice. There is no one right way to use storytelling in an elevator pitch. Nonetheless, it might seem daunting to use such a complex strategy in a speech that’s supposed to last 30 seconds!

How can you organize your brief storytelling? You can break it up into a simple formula: Pain point, conflict, and resolution. Okay, let’s break it down. The first thing you want to do is bring up a customer pain point that your target audience is likely to experience. Then move promptly into presenting the solution that your business offers. Be sure to give credence to your example; share evidence of success to reinforce your credibility. To maximize the impact of your “story”, end with a call to action.

Recording Do’s and Don’ts

Ultimately, the success of an elevator pitch depends on its delivery.
Ultimately, the success of an elevator pitch depends on its delivery. Image by

Lighting and audio are key concerns. It’s a good idea to seek out a space with natural light. That said, avoid too much light, or being captured at an angle in which light obscures viewers’ vision. Artificial lights are okay, too- as long as they’re not so bright that it steals the focus from you and what you are saying. When it comes to noise, avoidance is the best policy, so try and find a reasonably quiet place. Even at work, there is probably some space that’s quiet some of the time. But if there’s not, you may want to find a different space to record your speech.

Just as you would in person, be yourself. This is the very best way to connect with your audience. You can have all the sophisticated equipment money can buy, but if your speech sounds contrived and your smile doesn’t reach your eyes, people won’t make that special connection. One of your most important goals is to make your audience feel as if you understand a dilemma they face, and have the best solution.

Sharing Your On-Camera Speech

Your goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to be yourself!
Your goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to be yourself! Image by

So you did it. You crafted the perfect elevator speech- or at least the perfect speech for you and your target audience. Now what? The next step is to share your speech in a way that optimizes visibility. Without being seen and heard, even the best elevator speech is a fail, right?

Fortunately, sharing your speech is a simple, easy process. We recommend sharing across social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name the most important ones. Why share it on so many platforms? Well, every social media outlet is different from the next. For example, Twitter only allows users to post 280 characters, and mostly focuses on media, celebrities, events, and mass movements, and news (i.e., what’s happening in the world outside their iPhones). Instagram, on the other hand, is a much more personal platform, and ideal for experiential marketing. It not only it pulls in niche audiences with creative visuals, focusing on photography and filters. But it’s home to thousands of ongoing personal conversations, sometimes across nations.

Instagram seems to be trying to transform into a safe space for people to discuss society, world issues, and personal experiences. In other words, it’s a breeding ground for niche audiences, and a vital part of every event planner’s marketing strategy. LinkedIn is structured to facilitate professional networking, so it’s also a must. Although Facebook is a bit cluttered and disorganized, making it easy to get lost in its algorithm, there are ways to maximize your visibility. Inserting a link to your video onto your page and into your statuses used to be enough. Now people are making sure to upload videos directly to Facebook rather than just using links. If you do this, people are much more likely to see your content on their news feed.

Hopefully, we’ve given you a starting point to work from. Don’t worry that you’re not ready to begin- the truth is, no one really is. Sharing an elevator speech and initiating new professional relationships can be anxiety provoking- that’s totally normal. But once you create your speech and keep practicing it, it will start to become second nature. The saying, “Fake it till you make it” may sound trite, but it’s applicable here. Again, the goal is not to be perfect. Your goal is to simply be you and have fun doing it! Plans app is now available for iOS/Android. Try it for free today! The ultimate social event planning app!



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