The Elevator Conversation

Recently I was at a doctor’s appointment and was asked what I do for a living. I told my doctor I taught piano. He was very interested and asked many questions, which is typically the response I get whenever I share about my profession. However, as I later reflected on the conversation, I thought that perhaps I could have been more savvy. I often get too wordy and perhaps go into details that are unnecessary and time-consuming.

The experience prompted me to brush up on my “elevator conversation.” An elevator talk is a powerful, compelling, but concise explanation of what you do (or if you are looking for a job, what you want to be doing). Additionally, it can be crafted for different audiences or events, such as interviews or conferences. Its title refers to the length of an elevator ride, meaning that it lasts for about 20 – 30 seconds. Within that time, one should be be able to give the “big picture” about their business that is memorable and clear, sparking curiosity. The goal is for the person with whom you’re speaking to say, “tell me more!”

Googling elevator talk provided me with a wealth of information and many how to’s on developing the elevator conversation. One of the best I found was here, written by Thomas Deneuville. It can be called a pitch, speech, or talk. The current trend is to have a genuine conversation, rather than give a canned pitch as a salesperson would. This is the approach I would like to employ.

The essentials of the elevator talk include developing an interesting opening. For example, my response to “what do you do for a living?” is typically “I teach piano.” Though this approach is real and true and generally does capture the attention of my listener, a better response could be, “I give kids the gift of music!” – said with enthusiasm and a smile!! To develop your own elevator talk, use your mission statement as a starter and write one to two sentences about what you do. Then, write about your specialty or niche. What is unique or distinctive about your studio? What sets you apart from everyone else?

Lastly, just like everything else worth doing well, and what we tell our students, “practice, practice, practice!” In order to thoroughly master the art of the elevator conversation, audio and videotape yourself while speaking and remove all umms and ahhs from your vocabulary. To help, check out this excellent video for improving your speech called removing umms by Chris Westfall. With some hard work and practice, improve your elevator conversation and watch your studio grow!

1 Comment
  • Posted at 9:17 am, December 26, 2012

    Thank you so much for the kind mention and for sharing some other great resources!

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