The Value of the "Elevator Speech"


The Value of the "Elevator Speech"

A big part of our work for clients is helping them crystallize their message, focusing it, stripping it down to the essentials.  For a brand, that means articulating what you stand for and what customers can expect from a brand experience with you.

Sometimes, people refer to this as having an “elevator speech.”  I recently read a blog post by Marc Rudov trashing the elevator speech and arguing that it should be banned forever from the business vernacular.  His argument is that no one wants to hear a sale pitch during an elevator ride, which would render it the elevator ride from Hell.

While I agree that an elevator is no place for a sales pitch, I think Rudov’s condemnation of the term misses the point.

It’s About Timing, Not Location

It’s called an elevator speech not because that’s where you should deliver it, but because your core message should be short enough to deliver in the length of the average elevator ride.  It’s a term of art that relates to timing, not location.

Used that way, it’s not only a relevant term but an essential business tool.  Everyone needs an elevator speech because if you can’t say what you stand for succinctly and compellingly, no one will remember what you said.


When we recently rebranded Ron Sachs Communications as Sachs Media Group, many people asked us, “Why?”  In some cases, even on elevators!  The short answer (and who ever wants a long answer?) is that the way people consume information is changing, and we are changing to help our clients adapt and better deliver their messages to their essential audiences.  Increasingly, the art form is to provide content people want and will seek out and share, not force messages on people.  We can help with that.

When we helped the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs rebrand itself, we also refined an elevator speech explaining why:  To help veterans better connect to the benefits and services they’ve earned, because Florida veterans are leaving millions of dollars on the table.

Create a Chorus of Brand Ambassadors

Another value of an elevator speech is that it allows everyone in your organization to speak in one voice, creating a chorus of brand ambassadors.  If you don’t focus your message and train staff to internalize it, you can be certain that 100 employees will deliver 100 different messages.

It’s always been important to be able to convey your message quickly, but never more important than today, when information overload and shrinking attention spans leave many people with appetites for nothing longer than a 140-character tweet.

Mark Twain once famously said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead,” underscoring that concise communication is not easy.

Not easy, but surely important.  The next time someone asks you what your company, project or issue is all about, you need to be prepared to deliver a great, short answer – maybe even on an elevator.