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Elevating Your Elevator Speech

Posted on December 19, 2006

By Dave Sherman

The #1 question that people ask when starting a conversation with a total stranger is "what do you do?"  I call this the universal icebreaker.  It works beautifully almost every time because you know that everyone has an answer to this simple question.  The problem most people face is that they have NO idea the right way to answer this simple question.  Allow me to provide you a few suggestions.

1.     Only focus on the benefits that you provide – When people ask you what you do, answer the question as if they said, “what do you do FOR ME?”  This way, you will always focus on the benefit that you can bring to other people and they will be more likely to ask you for more information.

2.     Make it short and simple – The biggest mistake you can make when answering the question, “what do you do,” is launching into some long-winded, confusing, and boring sales pitch about your company.  An elevator speech should be no longer than 30-60 seconds, it should contain no acronyms or industry buzzwords and it should be simple enough for a ten-year old to understand.

  1. Know what you're going to say before you say it - I know this might sound like an obvious statement, but over 90% of the people have no idea what they're going to say until it's time to say it.  Take a few minutes and think about the clearest and easiest way for you to get your message across and watch how quickly people will respond to you.


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