The 2-Minute “Elevator” Speech

It’s a good idea to prepare a one- to two-minute introductory speech that you can use when networking, contacting job leads, or during an interview. (This is sometimes called an “elevator speech”: it’s something that can be tweaked for a short elevator ride.) Then memorize it, and practice so it doesn’t sound memorized, and so you can easily adapt it to different situations.

I cannot overstate the importance of this. The biggest complaint from people receiving networking and job-search calls is that they are rambling and unfocused. No one wants to help you figure out what you can do for them, so your initial contact must be prepared, polished, and direct. This will also be a life saver the first time an interviewer says, “So, tell me about yourself.”

Following is a sample introductory speech:

Ms. Smith? This is Fred Fine. Jack Jones from Ace Manufacturing suggested that I give you a call. Do you have a moment, or would it be better if I call you at another time? . . . For the past 14-years I’ve been in marketing and management with Strong Products, where I’ve progressed from an outside sales position to director of their marketing division. My responsibilities include researching and expanding into new markets. I’ve been successful in more than doubling our client base in the past four years. You may have heard about the reorganization at Strong, and as a result I’m one of 12 management employees who’ll be leaving there in the next month. Do you anticipate any openings for anyone with my qualifications? . . . Do you know of any openings elsewhere in your company? . . . Can you recommend anyone else I might speak to you in your company? . . . Can you recommend anyone outside of your company who might be looking for someone with my qualifications . . . May I use your name when I call him?

You probably won’t get a chance to ask all of the questions that you’d like, and you don’t want to push it, but ask the ones that fit into the conversation. Then follow-up with a note of thanks, accompanied by your resume.

The introductory speech can be adapted for an interview. For example, in response to the question, “So, Miss Reardon, tell me about yourself . . .”

I have more than ten years’ experience in office management and administrative support. In my most recent position with Briggs Electronics, I was Executive Assistant to the CEO. Along with managing the day-to-day office operations, I supervised two assistants, prepared payroll for 120 employees, and acted as liaison to upper management. While I was there I had the opportunity to implement cross training in the department, I set-up procedures and developed job descriptions, and I worked with a programmer in upgrading our system. I’m proficient in a variety of computer software, I’m well organized and able to balance multiple responsibilities, and I believe my history indicates that I have particularly strong communication skills, both written and oral.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2007, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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