Six Issues to Avoid In Your Elevator Speech

 In Professional Networking

Six Issues to Avoid in Your Elevator Speech


Dorothy Tannahill-Moran

These days we all know we need an elevator speech, especially if you’re a job seeker or a business owner.  An elevator speech can be a great and memorable way to introduce ourselves, if done right.  When these speeches go wrong however, they are memorable for the wrong reasons – mostly they’re boring or cringe-worthy.  Don’t let that be you.

Here are six of the more common issues that you want to avoid…



  1. Waaaay too long.  I have heard elevator speeches that were longer than commercials.  These speeches are attempting to put a full length resume in an oral review.  Don’t do that.  Make yours 1 or 2 sentences as a maximum length.  In the case of elevator speeches – less is more.
  2. Filled with over-used terms.   Just as you need to avoid certain over-used, trite terms in your resume and interview, that also applies to your elevator speech.  Terms like: “customer service oriented – people person – results oriented” need to be kept out of your speech. Use more powerful, specific terminology.
  3. Wimpy words.  Instead, use powerful verbs.  You need to think about your results and if you can toss in numbers or comparisons.  They all add to your credibility.
  4. Starting your elevator speech with “I am”.   The fastest way to the snooze button is to start an elevator speech with “I am….” The primitive brain of your listener will go into autopilot. “I am” allows their brain to instantly categorize you and go to sleep.  You will lose them.  Your speech should be interesting and compelling enough to make the listener want to ask more about you.  They can’t get too engaged with you when they’ve checked out.
  5. You’re cringing and so is your listener.  I’ve heard some elevator speeches that simply made you cringe with embarrassment.  The person saying it made up something, but it wasn’t something they were comfortable with.  You do have to practice it so you’re comfortable, but if you’ve fully memorized it and you feel like you have fleas in your shorts – you need to toss it out and start over again.  Apparently, it’s just not who you are authentically.  Your elevator speech needs to be something you can feel comfortable with or even proud to say.
  6. Not compelling.  It is kind of tough to think about ourselves in glowing, interesting terms.  But you only have one opportunity to make a first impression on someone; and that needs to hold their attention.  I have yet to meet a person who didn’t have at least one seriously interesting thing to say about them or their business.  That should be the thing you have in your elevator speech.  If you can’t think of it, you haven’t thought hard enough.  If you still can’t think of something, ask people you know to tell you what sorts of things they tell people about you – those are usually very memorable.

You don’t want to be on the receiving end of an elevator speech that you want to run away from.  More importantly you don’t want that elevator speech coming out of you.  Keep these tips in mind; and you will have an elevator speech that will make a great, lasting impression.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

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