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A free E-zine from Communication Excellence Institute, dedicated to improving communication in the professional workplace.

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In both good and tough economic times, in both business and higher education, good communication is always critical. And in this fast-paced world, we all need to get our message across to decision-makers as quickly and to the point as possible. To respond to that need, we at CEI have found an easy way to craft what is called an “elevator speech,” and are devoting this issue of People Skills for Skilled People to offering you an actual track to run on for constructing your own great elevator speech. Once you complete the steps below, you will be able present your organization, institution, or yourself quickly, smoothly, and memorably. You can also modify your elevator speech for different organizations, situations, and people. So let’s get started building you…

A “Killer” Elevator Speech For Your Ride to the Top!
Vol. 5, No. 4

What do we mean by an Elevator Speech? It’s a short description of who you are and what you do, presented to a key person in the time it takes to go by elevator from the lobby to the top floor of a mid-rise building. In networking organizations, members introduce themselves in “elevator speeches” of about 30 seconds. Ideally, an “elevator speech” has attention-getting information that encourages others to want to know more about your business or institution.

Writing your elevator speech

Here are the basic elements of an elevator speech for introducing yourself. Just fill in the blanks. (You might want to print out this format for convenience.) This format is especially helpful when you introduce yourself publicly in professional or civic organizations, where you want to be brief, but memorable.

(“Hi,” “Hello,” “Good morning/afternoon/evening”)

Your name: ____________________________________________________________
(“I’m…”/“My name is…”)

Title & organization: _____________________________________________________
(“I’m a labor & employment attorney with Smart & Verbal, LLP”/“I’m President of Awesome College”/“My company is Vital Services Corporation”)

What you do (including your Value Proposition):_______________________________
(“We come up with new strategies to take care of old workplace problems”/”We educate the next generation to use the technology of the future”/”We take the hassle out of finding the best healthcare professionals”)

Your Value Proposition is what makes you special. What distinguishes you from other similar organizations?

A “you-oriented,” catchy benefit statement:__________________________________
(“I’m an attorney who will work just as hard to keep you out of court as to defend you in it!”/“So, if you want your graduates to advance as fast as the technology, take a look at Awesome!!”/“If you’re tired of pouring time and resources into dead-end executive searches, let’s talk.”)

The Benefit Statement makes the Value Proposition (see above) practical.
Your name & organization again:___________________________________________
(“Joe Sellers, Trident Realty.”)

Rehearsing your elevator speech

Now the time has come to turn your great writing into talk.

There are two ways to rehearse your elevator speech. First, just speak it out loud by yourself. Notice how the words flow. If you get tongue-tied, then rewrite the phrases that you get hung up on. Do it over and over until it comes out sounding natural. Second, think about being videotaped. If you haven’t been videotaped much, you may want to have someone tape you who can give you professional feedback on your performance.

When Jan and I coach people on their elevator speeches, we make sure they observe four things, which we represent with our RSVP acronym.

R Really hit key words and phrases. Determine which words in each sentence of your speech you want to make the biggest impact. Take the sentence above. I’d hit the keywords and phrases printed in bold: “I’m an attorney who will work just as hard to keep you out of court as to defend you in it!”

S – Speak in short sentences and phrases. If you’ve written your speech in short sentences like the samples above, you’ve got half the battle won. Most people write in long sentences, but speak in short ones (about 7-10 words each). The reason for this is that in writing, you can always go back to the beginning of a long sentence if you miss an idea, but in spoken long sentences it’s easy to lose a speaker’s initial ideas and not possible to recapture them. Also short sentences flow easier and are easier to phrase.

V – Increase your Volume. Most people speak quite a bit softer than they think they do. In our consulting, Jan and I ask many of our clients to speak twice to three times louder than normal. The reaction from softer-speaking people is the sensation of shouting, but when they hear themselves on tape, they agree they sound better. It’s not that we can’t hear them. It’s that they don’t project as much energy when they speak softly.

P Pause. Be sure to separate your sentences clearly. Speakers will tend to run the sentences of their elevator speeches together, giving the impression of hurriedness and a desire to just get it over with!

Finally, there’s one last tip. End each sentence with a downward inflection. Most people introduce themselves with the kind of inflection we use at the end of a question. If I introduce myself, saying “Hi. I’m Neal Larsen Palmer” with an upward phrasing on “Palmer,” as though a question mark followed my name, it will make you wonder “Are you sure you’re Neal Larsen Palmer?” Downward inflection at the end of sentences makes your statements more definitive and persuasive.

Finally, let’s take a look at some…

Do’s and Don’ts of an Effective Elevator Speech


  • Excite curiosity by putting together an attention-getting sound bite.
  • “Hook” them with your clear and brief Value Proposition (what makes you special).
  • If appropriate, start your “What I/we do” phrase with “I/We help ...”
  • Use verb-based, benefit-oriented phrases.
  • Introduce yourself as a “solution-provider.”
  • Use definitive downward inflection for every clause.
  • Talk through a smile when delivering your elevator speech.
  • Maintain solid, warm eye contact.
  • Gesture outwardly toward the other person or audience.
  • Have multiple versions of your elevator speech for different situations.
  • Always stand. Give your elevator speech sitting, only if everyone else has.
  • Change your speech over time to keep it fresh. Don’t let them think “so what?


  • Make your speech formulaic or sounding memorized. People will tune out instantly.
  • Rush your speech. Take a breath! Otherwise, it will sound canned.
  • Start talking until you are fully standing.
  • Use jargon unless the person or people hearing you are in your field.
  • Improvise your speech. Rehearse it to get it smooth.
  • Use abstract language. Down-to-earth words and mind pictures work best.
  • Use closed gestures or upward inflection.
  • Speak longer than the allotted time (generally 30 seconds).

You’ve spent a career lifetime honing your skills and building your knowledge base. So DO craft a dynamite elevator speech, and DON’T miss a single opportunity to use it.

Yours in good communication,

Jan & Neal Palmer

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To all our friends and clients of CEI…
Just in case you might have missed our previous issue of People Skills for Skilled People,
we want to share…


First, we have just opened CEI’s new web store. We will be offering CD’s, DVD’s, and downloadable documents on many aspects of communication. We’re excited to be able to share informative products to help you navigate the wide dynamic world of communication.

Second, we’re very excited to announce that we have just released a new DVD of our classic presentation “BEYOND WORDS: Building Your Personal Credibility Through Nonverbal Communication.” This 1.5-hour seminar with PowerPoints was recently presented to a group of 60 CEOs of corporations in Southern California. We think you’ll like it. For those of you who have seen this presentation before, we hope it offers you a great refresher. For those of you who have been waiting for our speech to come out on DVD, here it is!

Here’s our message on the back of the box:

Become more successful with clients, prospects, and colleagues!
Over 90% of your communication is nonverbal (positive or negative).
What messages are YOU sending?

What makes some people able to get their ideas enthusiastically accepted, while others are bypassed? Why are some people more believable than others? How do smart leaders gain people’s confidence? The answer is … by harnessing the power of nonverbal communication! People in your business and professional life are far more influenced—positively or negatively—by how you communicate nonverbally than by the words you say. In this presentation, Dr. Janet Larsen Palmer and Dr. Neal Larsen Palmer, principals of Communication Excellence Institute and nationally known experts on nonverbal communication, share practical techniques you can use to stand, gesture, and reach out to others nonverbally for greater impact and persuasiveness. You’ll be excited to try out everything you learn in this highly interactive presentation.
The Palmers coach university presidents, lawyers, business leaders, expert witnesses, politicians, fund raisers, and motivational speakers to use their nonverbal communication to make the greatest persuasive impact.

If you’d like to order our DVD, please click this link to our web store:

You can either enter your credit card information directly into our secure site, or select “print and call” if you would prefer not to enter credit card information. Just call our office at 800-410-4CEI (4234). Our staff will be happy to take your order over the phone. The cost of our DVD is $29.95 plus tax and shipping & handling.

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Finally, Jan and I have been approved as Vistage speakers. Vistage (formerly TEC International) is a mutual support and mentoring organization for CEOs of $30-50M+ corporations. They have chapters all over the world and hire heavily screened speakers for their monthly meetings. We just gave our inaugural speech “BEYOND WORDS: Building Your Personal Credibility Through Nonverbal Communication” (featured on our new DVD) to a Vistage group in Southern California, and received their “thumbs-up.” As you can imagine, we’re very excited to speak to many more Vistage groups.

And that's our People Skills for Skilled People for today!

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