Mastering the Elevator Speech

young Black man in professional clothing smiling as if he is meeting someone new

An elevator speech, or self-introduction, is a 30- to 60-second statement that conveys your unique skills and what you can offer to a company or organization. It is a way to share your knowledge and credentials quickly and effectively with someone you just met.

Elevator speeches are useful:

  • At networking events
  • At career fairs
  • With a potential client
  • When meeting someone for the first time in in a professional setting
  • When you meet someone in an actual elevator!

You should be able to convey:

  • Who you are
  • What you do or have done, including key information that is relevant to your experience or goals
  • What you are seeking

Examples of good elevator speeches

“I recently graduated from college with a degree in communications. I worked on the college newspaper as a reporter and later editor of the arts section. I'm looking for a job that will put my journalism skills to work.”

“I’m passionate about the environment and am interested in building on my experience in environmental sustainability with an internship. My University of Cincinnati education taught me to think critically and make connections across disciplines. I use those skills in my student organization as we work to educate our campus community on the importance of living green. I want to make a difference by helping people understand how their actions affect our planet, which is why I’m interested in working for your organization.”

Elevator Speech Do's

Be brief

Your speech should only be 30 to 60 seconds long – about the time it takes to ride an elevator, hence the name. Don’t try to include your entire work history and career goals; just pick out one or two things.

Be persuasive

Even though it is brief, your self-introduction should spark interest.

Share your skills

Your self-introduction should explain who you are and what qualifications and skills you have. Try to focus on assets that are valuable in many situations.

Practice, practice, practice

The best way to get comfortable with an elevator speech is to practice it until it comes naturally. Try saying your speech to a friend or record it and listen back. This will help you know if you are staying within the time limit and delivering a coherent message.

Pro Tip: Even though you should practice, you don’t want to sound like you’ve memorized it. Think of it as bullet points or a general outline. This will leave room for your personality and flexibility in the moment.

Mention a goal

You don’t need to get too specific. A very narrow goal doesn't help, since you'll use your self-introduction in many situations with different types of people. However, do remember to say what you are looking for, for instance, “a role in marketing” or “an opportunity to apply my sales skills to a new market” or “to relocate to Seattle with a job in this industry.”

Have a business card or resume ready

If you have a business card, offer it at the end of the conversation as a way to continue the dialogue. If you are at a job fair or professional networking event, offering a copy of your resume also shows your preparedness.

Elevator Speech Don'ts

Don’t talk too fast

Although you only have a short time to deliver your elevator speech, rushing through it makes it hard for the listener to absorb your message.

Don’t ramble

This is why it is important to practice. While you don’t want to sound over-rehearsed, you also don’t want unclear sentences or to go off-track.

Don’t have only one version

You are probably interested in more than one thing – for example, public relations and psychology. Many of your skills can apply to both fields, so tailor your elevator speech to the person you’re talking to. You can also practice a more casual, personal self-introduction for social settings.

Want a second opinion?

Come to walk-in hours to work on your elevator speech or self-introduction with a career coach.