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Elevator Talk: A 30-second bio to get you remembered

By Amy Drew on October 30th, 2006 •

You've heard the saying: "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression." But what if that "first" chance only lasts a minute? Will you be ready? You never know when or where you might meet someone who can help you, and with a little practice, you can leave a memorable first impression and earn an invitation to meet again.

You need an "elevator speech." The idea is to say what you need to about yourself in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom floor to the top -- and sound good doing it. Use these tips to develop a short speech (200 words or so) about who you are and what you want to do.

DEFINE YOURSELF. Jot down key words that describe you, your strengths and skills.

HOOK YOUR LISTENER. Don't just say: "Hi, my name is Pete and I just graduated from ABC University with a degree in business." Try something like: "Hi, my name is Pete, and I just spent the last four years preparing to influence my generation with new technology that will redefine how we work."

LESS IS MORE. Get to the point, so you don't waste their time or patience. Convey your message with as few words as possible.

EXPLAIN IN LAYMAN'S TERMS. For example, "interactive communication software" doesn't sound any better than saying "blog." It just sounds full of itself. Don't try to impress people with industry jargon.

USE A GOOD OPENER. Here are a few examples:

  • "I'm starting a website that raises money for students interested in studying abroad." (Nonprofit entrepreneur)
  • "I work with teens and young adults to help them find their place in the world." (Career counselor)
  • "I've spent the last two years skateboarding to become better acquainted with the recreational needs and desires of my peers." (Recreation management)

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Your speech should roll off your tongue. You want to look confident, but not pushy. Aim for casual, but driven. Try it in front of the mirror (when nobody's looking, of course) and polish your mannerisms and body language.

The Bottom Line

Using a clever introduction is the easiest way to make yourself memorable. Make a good impression over the first handshake and you've got a valuable connection. And it makes that time you got caught practicing your speech in the mirror totally worth it.


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