The 30 Second Elevator Speech Revisited


Been to a networking event recently? Don’t you just love the part when the microphone is passed around the room and everyone gets a chance to deliver their cleverly written, buzzword loaded, adjective bloated 30 second elevator speech?

Me neither.

It seems that we’ve made great strides in the way we digest information – we skim read, we look for bullet points, we listen for sound bites and we avoid reading long run on paragraphs. We don’t even write down phone numbers elevatoranymore….we Google them….

We’ve become quite adept at sifting through “information junk” and honing in on the few nuggets of true value.

Why then, have so few of us changed the way we broadcast?

Often, we deliver an introduction or 30 second commercial that contains all the elements that we have become experts at tuning out ourselves…

Enough of that. It’s time to learn how to create an introduction, a 30 second commercial or elevator speech, that is geared towards what people want to hear, and geared toward the way they listen….not simply what we want to say.

Below are The Five Rules for Creating an Attention Grabbing 30 Second Commercial. The last one will demo the actual structure of the intro, with the first four focusing on delivery.

1. Make it 20 seconds long.
Yup, that’s right. Your 30 second commercial should be 20 seconds long.

By making it 20 seconds long you do two things: 1) guarantee you won’t drone on and on, which is never a good idea and 2) it gives you the opportunity to add something timely, relevant and special about you or your company that would be of interest to this specific group.

Example 1: “(20 second intro here). We’re having an open house next Tuesday from 4-6 and you are all invited. We’re located at 123 Main Street. Hope to see you there!

Example 2: “(20 second intro here). I just made top producer for this quarter which is the second quarter in a row for me!”

Time references tend to perk our ears up; they’re a signal that what’s coming might be important. So let the audience know what is going on with your company “next week”, or “this quarter”, ‘”this Friday” or at the “end of this month”.

2. Don’t memorize it.
A memorized introduction sounds memorized. For most of us, when we recite a memorized anything, our voices take on this sing-song like quality, we sport this wide plastic grin, and we bob side to side while making stiff hand jesters.

All rather silly.

Also, when you memorize it, you lose the ability to change it up at the last minute if you need to. For example, at many events you are asked to give simply your name and company, followed by the answer to a question, such as “What was the last piece of technology you purchased?” or “What is the top quality you look for in a new hire?”.

Too often, those with memorized intros will launch into their memorized monologue and ignore the question all together. The only thing this accomplishes is showing everyone in the room that you have difficulty following directions. The chances that someone will knowingly choose to work with someone who doesn’t follow directions are near zero.

3. Avoid buzzwords,  jargon, metaphors and tag lines.
This is the stuff that people tend to tune out the most. It makes people think too hard to figure out what you actually do, so they simply stop listening.

Unfortunately, this is also the stuff that people load up their intros with thinking it makes them sound fascinating and clever.

Avoid saying you leverage anything, that you’re a solution provider, that you’re a thought leader, that you identify pain points, that you help people help themselves, that you give business owners more free time, that you give business owners peace of mind, and avoid using your company tag line in your introduction.

Taglines look great on a website or in a brochure, but most are not meant to be used as a personal introduction. It comes off sounding silly.

And finally, for heaven’s sake don’t call yourself a guru, a swami, a warrior,  or Mr./Ms.  Insert Industry Here. (I’ve heard all of these at least once)

Nicknames are given to you by other people and when others refer to you by that nickname, it is very flattering. When you refer to yourself by a nickname, or even worse, in the third person, it sounds pompous and a bit psycho.

Example: Kelly Frager of Etiquette for Everyday calls me the Networking Guru and I call her the Etiquette Guru. We both refer to each other publicly that way and both get a kick out of it. But do we refer to ourselves with those nicknames?


4. Follow the rules
That means if you get 30 seconds, then stick with 30 seconds. If you are asked to answer a question, then answer the question. If you are told to state your name and company only, then give your name and company only.

At every networking event, there is always at least one person who believes that the rules do not apply to him or her. They ignore the moderator’s request and launch into a speech that has nothing to do with what they were asked to say.

This shows you cannot follow directions.

Not good.

5. State your name, your company name, what you do, who you do it for and where you do it.
For most of us, this is about 15 seconds worth of info, leaving us plenty of time to share our timely, relevant news or announcement geared specifically for that group.

This –>I’m Jeannine Morber, owner of Morber Marketing Group. I provide customized sales and marketing training to small to medium sized companies throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Next week, on August 11th, I’m giving a presentation on “Networking Like a Pro” at Maggie’s restaurant in Westminster at 11:30. Lunch is included so hope to see you there!”

Not this –>I’m Bob Smith of Smith Company, we’re industry leaders in developing comprehensive revenue management strategies designed to provide businesses with higher growth potential and provide business owners with peace of mind. We make the difficult decisions so you don’t have to!  That’s Bob Smith of Smith Company. Just call me Mr. Finance!

Got it? Great!

Now go give it a try!

Blog of Note: I love reading “The 12 Most” blog. This week Doug Rice wrote “The 12 Most Annoying Habits of Sales People”. This is a must read for sales people everywhere. And those that don’t think they need to read it, need it the most.






  1. Jeannine the Networking Guru,

    Excellent tips that add a welcomed freshness to how you present yourself and your business. Thank you!


    • Why thank you very much Kelly the Etiquette Guru! As always, I appreciate your input, and love your blog as well!

  2. Great tips, Jeannine. Anyone who has ever attended a BNI networking meeting should take heed – especially the parts about avoiding buzzwords, jargon and metaphors, and following the rules. “Blah, blah, blah!”

    I still need to make it to one of your workshops!

    • Thanks so much Jeff! I’d love to have you attend one of my seminars, in fact….I would love to do a seminar together with you! We’d be a great team, don’t you think!?


  3. Great info Jeannine – as always – thanks for sharing!

  4. These were really great points and ones that I will take to heart the next time I’m at a Networking event and am asked to introduce myself and company. I have always felt “phony” when delivering the memorize 30 second elevator speech anyways, so your comments are quite freeing!!

  5. Thanks Jean! Great salespeople know that when something feels phone, it probably is!

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