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Fantastic Formulas for Composing Elevator Speeches
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Be sure to read our articles The Elevator Speech is the Swiss Army Knife of Job-Search Tools and Elevator Speech Do's and Don'ts.
While many Elevator Speeches are written by sales reps to pitch products and services, the formulas from which the speeches derive can be easily adapted to situations in which the product is you, the job-seeker. This roundup of formulas suggested by experts should provide food for thought for the method that works best for you in planning and outlining your Elevator Speech.
For example, Certified Professional Virtual Assistant Jean Hanson suggests this formula:
- Who am I? (introduce yourself)
- What business am I in?
- What group of people do I service? (be specific -- do you have a niche?)
- What is my USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What makes me different from the competition?
- What benefits do my customers derive from my services?
Here's how it could be adapted for a job-seeker:
- Who am I? (introduce yourself) -- No change
- What business am I in? -- What field or industry am I in?
- What group of people do I service? (be specific -- do you have a niche?) -- What position am I in? In what capacity do I serve?
- What is my USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What makes me different from the competition? -- No change
- What benefits do my customers derive from my services? -- What benefits can employers derive from skills, based on my proven accomplishments?
Hanson says that in a selling situation, the listener's unspoken question is "Why should I do business with you?" -- Similarly, in a job-hunting situation, the listener's tacit question may be "Why should I (or any employer) hire you?"
Next is a variation on Hanson's formula adapted from Randy W. Dipner Meeting the Challenge, Inc., along with our illustration (in boldface) of how it can be adapted for a job-seeker:
List target customers. Group them and ultimately define THE customer. -- List target employers. Group them and ultimately define THE employer.
Define the need or opportunity. That is, what critical issue does the customer face? -- What need or issue does the employer face?
Name the product or service or concept. -- Introduce yourself.
Place the product, service, or concept into a generally understood category. -- Identify yourself in terms of a job function or contribution. What do you do?
List the benefits -- not the features -- of the product, service, or concept provides to the customer. Group or prioritize the benefits to identify the single benefit that is the most compelling reason for the customer to buy the product, service, or concept. To the maximum extent possible, the benefit should be quantified. -- List the benefits -- not the features -- that you provide to the employer. Group or prioritize the benefits to identify the single benefit that is the most compelling reason for the employer to hire you. To the maximum extent possible, the benefit should be quantified.
Develop a statement of the primary differentiation of the product, service, or concept. The differentiation is the single most important thing that sets your product, service, or concept apart from the competition or state of the art. -- Develop a statement of the primary differentiation of yourself. The differentiation is the single most important thing that sets you apart from the competition.
Tony Jeary, author of Life Is A Series Of Presentations, offers this Elevator Speech formula:
- Define your audience universe.
- Define your content or subject matter.
- Define your objective.
- Define your desired image or style.
- Define your key message.
A formula that probably has more components than the average job-seeker will want to use is offered by the UK-based Adding Value Masterclass and adapted here:
- Pain -- Paint a graphic picture of the "pain" or problems that the employer is experiencing.
- Credibility -- Your qualifications for solving the problem.
- Solution -- Specifically hint at how you can provide a solution (but don't give away the farm before you have the job).
- Gain -- Explain the benefits the employer will experience.
- Impact -- illustrate the difference those benefits will make in the organization.
- Emotion -- Describe how the benefits will make the employer feel.
- Prove -- Provide evidence that support your claims through examples or stories.
- Money -- Job-seekers should probably skip this step.
- Risk -- Remove any remaining doubts they may have by removing the risk.
- Close -- Reiterate the key points and ask for an interview or other appropriate next step.
Author, speaker, and consultant Marisa D'Vari suggests starting the Elevator Speech process by writing down three key points about your product (you, in this case) and discussing how these points will benefit the listener.
The business school at Pepperdine University suggests knowing your audience and knowing yourself, including key strengths, adjectives that describe you, a description of what you are trying to let others know about you, and a statement of your interest in the company or industry the person represents. Armed with that knowledge, the job-seeker can then outline the Elevator Speech using these questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I offer?
- What problem is solved?
- What are the main contributions I can make?
- What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?
The School of Management at George Mason University offers a good approach for college students (they call the speech a "personal pitch.").
Final Thoughts on Writing Elevator SpeechesYou'll notice that one thing nearly all the experts have in common is their espousal of the importance of stressing your benefit to the listener and touching on how you're better than the competition. This principle encompasses many names -- Unique Selling Proposition, value proposition, benefit statement, competitive advantage, deliverables, differentiation -- but the bottom line is the same. What can you bring to the employer, and how can you do it better than anyone else?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com.
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