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The Focus for your Elevator Speech

April 19, 2012

I help several different businesses develop their business plan, exit strategies & prepare to ask for funding.  I also try to support my friends in  ‘real networking’, or playing it forward.  Identifying the next opportunity for them.  Whether you are looking for an investor, or searching for a job or targeting your next client… Most entrepreneurs &  job seekers are not public speakers.  Lucky for all of us, this is a learned skill that with practice we can perfect.  The effective use of the ‘Elevator Speech’ can help open doors for you.

There are countless articles, acronyms, websites & paid professionals that make a living helping people craft their Elevator Speech.  For a long time, 60 seconds was the acceptable standard… then it ‘elevated’ to the 30 second speech… & today, some folks say you only get 15 seconds…. I guess it makes sense… everyone expects increased productivity,  do more with less,  so squeeze all your info into 15 seconds….  I admittedly have not perfected it yet.

One of the inherent problems & need for these Elevator Speeches is that people don’t use their ears & mouth in direct proportion.  They don’t like to listen…   “I’m sorry,  enough of me talking,   Please tell me… what do you think about me?”  & that is the secret!   I’ll explain, I promise.

You will hear people say, “You need to “hook’em”  say something interesting to really wow’em!” OR “Tell them a story to peak their interest so they ask you for more info.” OR  “Be C-C-C… Crisp, Clear & Concise. Don’t ramble” …  Advise like this you can get on the back of an aspirin bottle.

The 3 C’s are a great overview, but just scratch the surface of ‘what to do!” Sorry, but Don’t tell me “What to do” … Answers like that just create a vacuum. You climb the mountain & ask the wise man “What is the meaning of life?” … He answers… “Life is like meatloaf my son“… Then leaves you hanging to figure it out yourself. …  I hate that!  Don’t you just want to throw him off the cliff!   Come on…Show me! Give me an example.. Tell me How… Too many professors who lack real world experience give the same type answers… same with some ‘life coaches’…”Heal thyself”… Hey, What am I paying you for! Where’s the beef! I’m not asking for it on a silver platter but explain it, demonstrate it & prove it. Don’t quote me text-book, don’t give me buzzwords. I’m not from Missouri, but Show Me! Substance over style & word speak.

For me, I think 4 questions need to answered in your 30 second pitch & if it is only 30 seconds, it better be C-C-C. & here comes the Secret Sauce!

You need to assume the role/position of the investor / employer you are talking to. Get out of your shoes & step into theirs… You need to answer 4 questions in 30 seconds… From Their Perspective!  Not Yours!  It is ultimately all about.. “What is in it for them.. not you!”  Being C-C-C is useless if it is only about you.  Before I continue, This 30 second speech.. It better be in your business plan, on your website,  your friends & employees /partners should all be able to  know it.  Live it, breathe it, show it.

1. What do you do? (make it catchy, memorable, your tag line!)
i.e. “With over 20 years experience, I’m “Your Trusted Alternative to a full time CFO”.

2. What problem do you solve?
i.e. “From start-ups, due diligence & integration, business plan development, maximizing profitability, monetizing your balance sheet & developing exit strategies, I take a proactive approach. The devil isn’t in the details, the Profits are!”

3. How is your product/service different ? – (We are talking ‘blue ocean’ folks… what makes you special & sets you or your firm apart!)
i.e. “Call it “Operating Wisdom.” I can strategize at the executive level, but also roll up my sleeves & make it happen down to the customer level. I’m more of a CRO (Chief Results Officer). I knock down walls, build bridges & focus on your future.”

4. Why should I care? – (This is the MOST important! 75% if not more of decisions are emotional… it feels right, they connect, they feel the need, empathy, urgency, desire to be part of… Give them the “WHY”)
i.e. “How much of your time is doing what you love, driving the vision & growth of your company – versus – cleaning up loose ends, mired in details. ProCFO4U solves this dilemma with trusted & proven results. How can I help you?”

There is definitely more to this…    I’m sure you have heard the axiom, “it takes 1 hour to prepare a 2 hour speech, &  3 hours to  prepare a 15 minute talk.”  So how long will it take you to prepare your 15 or 30 second speech?  Days!… & you better practice, practice, practice!  Why…  So that when you have the opportunity to deliver…  you can  do all the following;

  • Make it appear effortless, natural unprepared, conversational.   (practice to make it appear unprepared!)
  • Be warm, cordial, confident & passionate, while taking it slow!  ( I  know you only have 15-30 seconds, but take it slow! huh?)
  • Make & keep good eye contact!
  • KISS – Keep it simple, Don’t use big words, Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room & give info overload.
  • Close, Close, Close … Ask for the order, Ask for the money, Ask for the interview, Ask for a business card or meeting.  Ask if they have questions or how you can help them!  The focus has to be on them… not you.  Tell me more about you & how I can help you!

I’ll admit, I don’t know all the right answers, but I know the right questions. I want to give some kudos to 2 dear friends & fellowship brother, Steve Treibel  and Dr.  Jim Wendling  for walking me through my elevator speech some time ago.

Continued Blessings!

Chris O’Connor
President – ProCFO4U
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
C) 781-956-2706

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2012 9:58 PM

    Wow, also excellent. I am rewriting my elevator speech because of your suggestions. Thank you.

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