Creating an Elevator Speech You Will Actually Use

“What do you do for a living?”  I remember the first time I was asked this question while attending a networking event.  I was trying to respond the best I could, but the words got tangled up in my mouth and I was embarrassed.   Answering what we do for a living is commonly referred to in small business as an elevator speech, or a 30-second commercial.

For a brand new business owner, creating and practicing the elevator speech can be a source of anxiety.  Trying to communicate what you do in a unique, succinct manner and appearing strong and confident can be challenging and frightening to some.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Most people, when asked this question, will reply back with the industry or association they are associated with.  “What do you do for a living?”  “I am a teacher.”  “I am in marketing.”  “I own an online business.”  The downside to answering the question this way is it doesn’t leave many options to expand on the conversation.  It also doesn’t allow you to explain how you and your business might be different than the rest and the value that you provide.  It can also be incredibly boring!

Telling People what you do

For years, I studied how to create the perfect elevator speech and even taught it to new business owners.  I have found many articles that teach the process for drafting an elevator speech should be lengthy and cumbersome.  By keeping the elevator speech simple to remember and easy to say, the chances of it being used over and over again are greatly improved.  To create a simple but effective elevator speech, you have to become aware of two things; understanding your Target Market and what their common needs or problems are.

Identifying your Target Market

Hopefully, you are very clear about the Target Market for your business.  Your Target Market is made up of individuals or businesses who are most likely to become your ideal customers.  Your Target Market is your core customers grouped by common types of characteristics.  In other words, they all have something they share in common.  It is important that you clearly identify your Target Market and then understand what their most common needs are.

Identifying Their Common Need

What are the common needs or problems experienced by your Target Market?  Do they need to lose weight?  Save money?  Save time?  It is up to you to determine what their biggest needs are and to provide them with a result that is a solution to these needs.

Identifying Your One Key Result

Your One Key Result is directed at their biggest and most pressing needs, and it is what you are selling to your customers.  Behind every key result there are many additional benefits.   Think about losing weight.  How many benefits can you think about that come from losing weight?  In addition to feeling better and wearing smaller clothes, you might go to the doctor less, you might take up other activities such as dancing or you won’t miss out on taking beautiful scenic hikes.  Hopefully, you have made a list of all of the benefits your customers will receive when you deliver them your One Key Result.  From then on it becomes a matter of learning how to talk about them.

Putting it Together

You have now identified your Target Market and why they are going to buy the One Key Result you are selling to them.    The next time somebody asks you what you do for a living, simply put these two pieces together.


“I help __________ (Target Market) get _________________ (One Key Result)

“I help business owners get more time off” or “I help business owners get found online”

It is perfectly fine to change the two action verbs “help” and “get”, if you prefer.

“I teach professionals how to find a better job”

As you can see, this simplified approach is quite different from how most people answer the question when asked what you do for a living.  You are communicating what you do and the problem you solve at the same time.    I encourage you to practice this the next time you get asked the question “What do you do for a living?”  After you reply, if the person who asked you seems intrigued and wants to hear more, you know you are on the right track.

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