Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Perfecting Your Pitch: Can Your Elevator Speech Take you to the Top?


What is the value of a good elevator pitch for you and your business?

A perfect elevator speech should compel the receiver to respond with meaningful and relevant conversation. Your positioning statement  should be interesting, state what you do, indict outcomes, and provide enough information for others to know whether or not they are interested in working with you.

Then exchange information so that you can follow up with people you want to work with as well.  It sounds easy, but few people do it well.  

A good elevator speech or positioning statement accomplishes 4 goals:

  1. Gives you a non-threatening icebreaker that can be used in ANY setting – at a networking event, at Little League, or in an elevator.
  2. Provides interesting information that serves as a basis for follow-on conversation.
  3. Identifies your unique abilities and differentiates you from others in your industry.
  4. Prevents that awkward stammering that occurs all too often when you are asked, “What do you?”

What are the typical pitfalls? Where do elevator speeches go to the basement?

A bad elevator speech is boring, ego-centric, really long (“when I was 8 years old I decided to …”) dismissively short or, sarcastic (“whatever I want!”).

How do you craft a great elevator pitch?

Three specific tips:

  1. Introduce yourself by providing something interesting and helpful. Ideally, people will ask a question to elicit more information because you are so engaging.
  2. Start with who you work with or for,  and what your role is. If you are a grant writer, you might say, “I work with a non-profit that raises money for cancer research.”
  3. Be specific. Be an expert. Be a specialist. Many people worry that if their description is too narrow, they risk not including some potential clients. People today want experts, so if you are an expert in something, say so, such as “I specialize in developing effective office procedures for chiropractors.”

You cannot expect an immediate client from a 30 second conversation, but after 30 seconds, most people will know if they want to pursue a possible business relationship.

If the conversation is going well, and you THINK they may be someone you want to contact with, offer to stay in touch.

“I’d like to send you a copy of my book and some materials, but I want to make sure that package would be welcomed.”

This is where they enthusiastically say yes. (I got this from Lois Creamer, Book More Business, www.BookMoreBusiness. She is a genius.)


“You sound really interesting and we might have an opportunity to work together on a project.  I’d like to add you to my circle of friends I keep in contact very month.  Would that be okay? It is a monthly note from me, just so we stay in touch.”

Then I add them to my monthly enewsletter. But I always ask to make sure it is not obnoxious.

Then send your new friend an article that might be of interest to them with a handwritten note.

Link with them and endorse on LinkedIn.

Get to know the people you network with better so that when opportunity knocks, you are in touch with the right people.


  1. Tonya Henderson Wakefield


    I loved this article. I am taking the NX Level entrepreneur course at the SBDC. The instructor, Mark Bittle, asked if I knew you and had nice things to say, BTW. I will think about your words before I practice my introduction tonight.

    Take care- Tonya

    PS- One of these days we should have coffee to catch up.

  2. Jeff Korhan

    Mary – Agree especially on your point of being specific. Many people think they’ll get more business by casting a wider net – when actually the opposite is true.

    Specificity cuts through the noise — and projects confidence.

  3. Mary Kelly

    Thanks, Jeff! Yes, we cannot be all things to all people. I am very grateful for your note!
    Warmly, Mary

  4. Mary Kelly

    Thanks for leaving a note!
    Yes, coffee would be grand! Tell Mark I say Hello and that he should be really nice to you. 🙂 How was your intro at class???


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