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Say that you meet someone in the hallway at a business conference and they ask you what you do. What will you say? They don’t want to hear a 15 minute speech on your business. They don’t even want to hear more than a couple minutes. Everyone needs to have a 1 minute speech prepared that explains exactly what their business is all about and why people should even listen to them. This is commonly referred to as an ‘elevator speech’ since you should be able to say it in the space of a short elevator ride. After that, you will hopefully get into a deeper discussion.

Here are the main steps to creating your elevator speech:

1. Outline your USP
What are the key points of your unique selling proposition?  What’s different about you compared to your competitors? Write these down in a simple bullet point format. Then cut out irrelevant words and explanations. Pare your USP down to the bare minimum, the most basic essence of what you are offering people.

2. Write your problem/solution statement
Now put your USP description into one sentence. It helps to put it in terms of a solution to a problem, since this is the most important part of anything you are selling. It’s why people buy. For example,’ I provide ready-made solutions for people that don’t have time to write or just hate it’. This doesn’t tell someone exactly what you do, but it intrigues them to want to learn more.

3. Write your features/benefits statement
Now write another sentence that explains the key points of how you deliver that solution. Your statement should be a very brief summary of the key features and benefits of what you are selling.  For example, ‘By writing the articles for them, I free up their time to focus on other parts of their businessî. This isn’t a sales pitch, which would just turn off someone that you met in an elevator. Itís a summary of why your solution actually works. It shouldnít give a person all the details of your business. Instead, it should create an opening for more questions from the other person. In other words, it’s a way to get a discussion going.

4. Put it all together
Now that youíve written the basics of your elevator speech, it’s time to put it all together. Practice saying it out loud and add other details to make your speech sound natural.  Try it out on someone else and get their feedback and reaction. Make sure to time yourself to make sure your little speech doesnít take more than about a minute. Finally, take the time revise and revisit your elevator speech frequently, especially as your business changes.

Creating your own individual elevator speech is far more important than most people realize. You never know when you will meet someone that can be a help in your business, or who is a potential customer. This is the one liner you can use with friends who have no idea what you do or with business colleagues you meet at a conference “in the elevator”. It is your ticket to opening the door to a potential relationship.