There was a time when my elevator speech required a dawdling trip to the top of the Empire State building stopping on all 102 floors for me to recite. When I tried to explain what the nonprofit I was founding was going to do, people gave me the same look I used to give my math teacher drawing a calculus problem on the blackboard.

The nonprofit was unique to our area so I had nothing to compare it too, which made it even more difficult to explain. I couldn’t say, “We’re kind of like Nonprofit A, only we’re going to be more international than them.” Or, “We’re like such-and-such business, only we’re going to make it a nonprofit.”

Nada. Zilch. Zero. I had nothing to compare it too so I stumbled and mumbled and never managed to get the two minute speech shorter than forty-five minutes, or so it seemed.

This presents a real problem if you’re intent is to get the people you’re talking to involved in what you’re doing. If you can’t explain it to them, then they’re not going to be very interested in joining you.

So here are the tricks I learned to make my elevator speech engaging.


How am I adding value to the person with whom I’m speaking?

An example, which would you respond to more favorably?

  •  A:  My name is Sue and I’m the VP of Quality Control for SkyHigh Airlines.
  • B: My name is Sue and I make sure that all SkyHigh airplanes you might fly on are the safest in the world.


How am I making the world a better place in which to live?

If you can’t answer that question, then let me give you some advice: reexamine your life because if you can’t find your job making the world a better place in which to live, you will not find any satisfaction other than a paycheck and, over time, that won’t satisfy you either.


Give me Action!

Say this to yourself, then create your elevator speech:  I am not a title: I am a change agent.

If you give a person your title only you’re giving them a noun- a person, place or thing. Titles are meant to define, impress, and categorize. You are not a category; you are a game changer.

However, create your elevator speech in such a way that it has engagement and action.  Don’t tell me your title; tell me what you do- that’s what I want to know! Don’t leave it with, “My name is Bill and I am the Chief Potentate of XYZ Widgets.”  Instead, say, “My name is Bill and I engage a team of highly creative professionals to make start-of-the-art widgets to make your life better.”


Write it down!

Mark Twain said, “If I would have had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

Your mind thinks in abstract concepts, not sentences, so think of writing as being a way to funnel thousands of disconnected ideas into one basic thought. The average person:

  • Can think 1,500 thoughts a minute
  • Can read 250 words a minute
  • Can speak 125 words a minute
  • Can type 65 words a minute
  • Can write 30 words a minute.

So what do I do for a living?

I create powerful and festive ways to help people like you solve global hunger.

Did that get  your attention?