Unless you are in sales, you might think that there is no need for you to know how to craft the perfect “elevator speech,” which is defined as a short period of time where you pitch an idea, concept, or even showcase your own skills! The idea is for the speech to be no longer than the length of an elevator ride. However, if you’re in human resources or serve as your company’s default HR person, knowing how to communicate important information a short, succinct fashion is actually crucial to your role and will serve you well whenever there is a new rollout or change-up in the way you do business. Below, we outline a five-part strategy for crafting an elevator speech that can be rolled out whenever the need arises.
But before we begin, let’s first discuss what exactly an elevator speech is. As we touched on above, these pitches are about 30-60 seconds in length, about 75-150 words in total, and are designed to compress a lot of information into a short amount of time. Think of it as the trailer to a movie or the back cover to a book. The pitch is designed to pique interest and let the listener know why they should continue to pay attention.
Set your goal
The best part about an elevator pitch is that it is short, but that’s also where the difficulty lies. You see, when you don’t have a lot of words to play with, you need to make sure that each one is pulling their weight. To really boil down what you want to say, first set a goal. What do you hope to achieve by giving this pitch? A salesman might want someone to buy his product so he would discuss the benefits of his item over the competition, while someone speaking to an investor would try to focus on their anticipated return on investment. From an HR perspective, let’s say that you want to tell your staff about some upcoming changes to benefit enrollment. In this scenario, you need to highlight the most important parts and the information that will most resonate with your audience, what the change is, why the change was made, and how it’s going to impact your workers.
Provide a set up
To achieve buy-in from your audience, folks need to have a bit of background information. The pros suggest that you follow a past-present-future structure, so if we lead with the HR example above, you will talk about the old benefits plan, what worked and/or didn’t work, and introduce the name of the new plan and how excited you are for its offerings. This section of your pitch should be pretty short, comprising only about 2-3 sentences and serve as the set up for the bulk of your pitch.
Highlight the perks
By this point, you should have the audience’s attention and can get to the real meat and potatoes of your elevator pitch: why this change is so important and why everyone should get on board. The pros suggest that this is where you should highlight your Unique Selling Position, or USP, and note what sets this plan and its offerings apart from the competition. During this segment of the pitch, as the HR professional referenced above, you would highlight any new benefits that your employees can enjoy or a new and exciting digital platform that will make it easier for enrollees to access and manage their benefits. Don’t be afraid to be specific or talk numbers. This is also the time to highlight the cost savings (where available) or how much more “bang for your buck” your employees will enjoy. This is the most crucial part of your conversation, so go ahead and tailor this speech accordingly. If you got push back in year’s past for not offering gym coverage and this benefits package includes discounted fitness memberships, be sure to toss it into the conversation.
End with a call to action
In an ordinary elevator interaction, the conversation would ostensibly end once someone reaches their floor. When you’re giving a pitch to a captive audience who doesn’t have the benefit of a pair of sliding doors to get them out of the conversation, you need a segue that lets the listener know that you’re shifting gears and are ready to give your full presentation at this time. We particularly are huge fans of the “call to action” as it sets up expectations for how the rest of the meeting will go and what your audience can expect to gain from listening up. A simple “so stick with me for the next 30 minutes and I’ll show you exactly how we’re going to get you signed up for this exciting change” gives folks a confirmation of the time you expect to spend with them, as well as what the end result will be, thus justifying why you require their undivided attention.
Practice makes perfect
As we touched on above, when you’re delivering an elevator pitch, every word counts. Therefore, the last thing you want to be doing is tripping over your words or fumbling through the finer points of your pitch. You can accomplish this goal by practicing your speech, cutting it for time, refining the words you use to get the most bang for your buck, and making sure that it’s both interesting and informative. Once you’ve completed all your edits, you should memorize what you have so that you won’t be tempted to veer off course when it’s time to actually perform in front of an audience. Further, you should practice in front of an actual person who can give you objective pointers about your tone and presence, as well as how easy it is to understand as a first-time listener (since you are already an expert on the plan and might be throwing out acronyms or other industry lingo that would trip non-HR folks up).
Do you rely on elevator pitches to introduce new concepts or ideas to your staff?