Delivering a Winning Presentation – in an Elevator

"Is your elevator speech ready?"

Is your elevator speech ready?

We all know what an “elevator speech” is, right? It is the common expression for your personal business presentation when meeting someone for the first time. In reality, you wouldn’t corner someone in an elevator with your pitch.

Or would you? It depends on the circumstances.

I seized the moment with the new CEO of a company I had been working with while in the elevator at a conference in Las Vegas. Whereas the former CEO, my client for presentation training and coaching for years, was quite reserved, the new CEO was tall and imposing, a former military man who takes no prisoners. He was not known for his approachability.

It’s Not About You

He knew me slightly, so that was an advantage. I was ready with my elevator speech – and so should you be when the opportunity arises. Remember, it’s not about you. As an icebreaker, I congratulated him on his new position. How could he not say, “thank you” and allow me say a few words?

I tailored my presentation to him. Between the 38th floor and the lobby, we had established a relationship and I’ve been working with him ever since. I was lucky because on the ride down we were the only two people in the elevator

Create Your Opportunities

But you’ve got to create your own luck and opportunities. When fate intervenes and you meet someone who could be important to your career and business, be prepared:

  • Have your elevator speech down pat. Rehearse it from time to time to keep it fresh and fluent.
  • Tailor your presentation to the listener. Don’t deliver a canned spiel that you use with everyone.
  • Deliver it with a smile and genuine enthusiasm. Maintain eye contact.
  • Listen to the response you receive and tailor your reply to your listener’s interests.
  • Be sure to follow up after your encounter.

I haven’t delivered my personal presentation in an elevator since then. But I’m ready if an elevator door ever opens again and I step in to discover that I’m sharing the space with someone I’ve always wanted to meet.

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