For a person who is always open to new opportunities, having a thoughtfully crafted elevator speech at the ready is a must. An elevator speech is nothing more than a brief summarization of who a person is as a professional and who he or she would like to become. It’s a quick way to signal to others that someone is always open to discussing career opportunities whether actively job hunting or not.

Crafting the Speech

An elevator pitch must be kept short. A good rule of thumb is it must take one minute or less to deliver. While that sounds short, it is enough time to highlight the current skills the speaker possesses that she would most like to take into her future professional life. This is not the time to talk about what she hasn’t enjoyed in her career or what she would like to avoid moving forward. The tone should be positive and persuasive. The speaker should put himself in the position of the listener and consider how he would feel if someone presented this speech to him. Better yet, a trusted friend or colleague can provide feedback.

Perfecting the Speech

Practicing an elevator speech is important. It must sound fluent but not fake, concise but not rushed. It should be practiced in front of a mirror or using video to be sure that both the voice and expression are warm and enthusiastic. Also, a few variations are wise. For people who are inclined to stay with their present employer but might accept a competing offer, it will need to cover different circumstances. When speaking to someone who might do business with the current employer, it would emphasize current capabilities. When speaking to someone who might want to hire, it would focus on a future evolving from current experiences.

Using the Speech

In the beginning, an elevator speech should be used in low-stakes situations. As speakers build confidence in their words and the ability to deliver them in a convincing way, it can be used among people in a position to help with career advancement. Just as there are always people looking for better opportunities, there is someone else looking for the seeker!