I’ve been on many elevators, and I’ve heard many speeches, but I can’t say that I’ve ever tried to time a speech unless it’s gone on so long that I don’t remember when it started. However I’m quite sure that at some time or another I’ve been the target of a 10-second elevator speech. That’s the beauty of this marketing selling concept. If it’s done right, you don’t even know its happening.
We are all selling something. Maybe it’s a product, or a service, or a concept or maybe we are simply trying to sell ourselves. We want to grab someone’s attention or leave a positive lasting impression. With that in mind, we need to be prepared to tweak someone’s interest in what we are trying to sell or who we are; and we need to do it quickly, hence the 10-second elevator speech. The reason it needs to be 10-seconds is that most people have a short attention span, and if you can’t grab their attention immediately, then you have lost your opportunity. Anything longer than that can be perceived as a presentation or speech and who has time for that. If they are still with you after ten seconds or they show some interest, then you have a chance to present more info or turn it into a conversation.
Think about the effectiveness of infomercials. You’re channel surfing late at night and come across an infomercial. You’ve got the remote control in hand and you could keep surfing, however you begin watching; why is that? Something grabbed your attention. Chances are you don’t even need or want whatever it is they are talking about or showing, but there you are intrigued by some gadget or the person talking.
Basically an infomercial is nothing more than a series of consecutive 10-second elevator speeches that continue to intrigue the viewer. Billy Mays made a living with 10-second elevator speeches, and Vince the Sham-wow guy specializes in the same method of marketing selling.
10-second elevator speeches don’t need to take place in an elevator, but they do need to be 10 seconds or less. A pick-up line in a bar is nothing more than a 10-second elevator speech in a social setting. Try timing this one, “Hello, my name is……, it looks like you’re alone, and I’m alone too, and now we’re not alone anymore.” Who knows if it works, but it is less than 10 seconds.
One of the best salesmen I ever knew said to me, “Selling is easy. Anybody can sell anything if they try. The key is to grab their attention.” And then he said, let’s go out on the corner and I’ll show you. We walked out the building and he stood on the corner and said to everyone who walked towards him the following, “Do you want to buy something? Do you want to buy something?” and he continued doing it. Within just a couple of minutes, someone said to him, “Well, maybe……what are you selling?”
And he took a pencil out of his shirt pocket and said, “I sell erasers, just like the one on top of this pencil, and erasers have won, lost, and caused more wars than all the bullets in China.” Now he wasn’t really an eraser salesman, however he grabbed this person’s interest enough to listen to what he had to say about what he was selling.
The bottom line is always be prepared to tell people what you do, or what you offer, and be prepared to do it within a 10-second time frame. If you do it right, your 10-second elevator speech can create a big door of opportunity for you.