Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tips for Getting to the Top Floor: 3 Simple Ways to Up-level Your Elevator Speech

By Jo Miller

Is your elevator speech elevating your career all the way to the top? Or is it leaving you stuck on the ground floor? If your current elevator speech educates your listeners about what you do now, but not what you are capable of doing next, you may be missing an important opportunity to re-shape how others perceive you. (And even how you perceive yourself!)

So, what do you typically say when you introduce yourself to others for the first time? When done right, this elevator speech – or thirty-second commercial – can be the verbal equivalent of “dressing for the job you want”.

Here’s a common example of how sending the right message can show you in a good light today, but a better one tomorrow: Let’s say you are the “go-to” person for tasks that you wish you could move beyond. Things you could basically do in your sleep and perhaps should even be delegating to others. Maybe people keep coming to you with requests that exemplify duties you were excited to perform a few years ago but now leave you feeling bored, underutilized and perhaps even unappreciated.

Regardless of what floor you’re on now, here are three simple “read today-use today” ways to reshape your elevator speech and sculpt how you are perceived in your organization.

1. Own responsibilities beyond your job description

Keep it simple, straightforward and clean. Start with your name and job title, and then follow with a brief, crisp and lean overview of what you are responsible for by saying, “I am responsible for a, b, and c,” where a, b, and c are very concise bullets points.

To uplevel your elevator speech, make sure at least one of these bullets goes beyond your current job description and describes a responsibility better fitting your next dream job within the organization.

For example, a product manager who aspires to manage a team of other product managers might say, “I oversee documentation and sharing of product management best practices” or “I represent product management in new business pursuits”.

2. Become the go-to person for the bigger picture

After sharing your name, job title and responsibilities, finish your elevator speech with a statement that sets you up as the go-to person for higher level duties.

For instance, you might say something like, “Come directly to me whenever you need x, y, and z”. Don't articulate the busy work or low-level tasks on your current roster or you’ll only attract more of those. Instead, choose up-market areas that showcase your leadership skills and the value you add to the organization.

3. Use leadership verbs

Finally, use language to your advantage by focusing on active, strong leadership verbs to send a powerful message that is forward focused.

For instance, in order to shift perception of yourself from doer to leader, catch yourself before you say you ‘work on’ something or even that you are ‘responsible for’ it.

Be definitive instead. Say you lead it, oversee it, orchestrate it or are in charge of it. Do you know of more examples of leadership verbs? Please post your suggestions in the comments section below. That is, right after you use them in your next elevator speech first!

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