By Jeff Beals
In the 1980s, millions of professionals heard about a new concept: the “elevator speech” or sometimes referred to as the “elevator pitch.”
As you move in and out of office buildings, you sometimes bump into someone who could possibly become a client or hire you for a new job. You need to be prepared to say what you do quickly, in the time it takes the elevator to go from the lobby to the office upstairs. During this time, you want to sound impressive while conveying something that the listener would find intriguing.
Back in the 80s, people would spend a lot of time developing and rehearsing these 20-to-30-second speeches. Many people do the same thing today.
Over the years, the elevator speech unfortunately has become bastardized as people try to cram too much into it. Elevator speeches have also been ruined by people trying to sound artificially impressive by littering their pitches with junk language, meaningless-but-fancy words.
The increasing reliance on junk language keeps popping up all over the place.
Upon arriving at the office one morning, I opened my email account and read this message:
Hello Jeff. I am writing to find out who at your company would be responsible for evaluating suite-of-services solutions that expand your competitive advantage across the enterprise.
“Suite-of-services solutions?” “Competitive advantage across the enterprise?”
Those are English words but certainly not plain English.
If this salesperson’s goal was to promptly get his email deleted, he succeeded. I can’t think of any reason on Earth why a prospect would bother responding to such a message. Not only is it a red warning flag that a salesman is stalking you, the message is full of annoying junk language. It’s not providing the reader anything he or she would value.
Sadly, junk language is not limited to email sales pitches. It’s extremely common in networking settings.
I’m amazed at the drivel that comes from the mouths of professionals at networking events. Go to any cocktail party mixer, ask someone what they do, and you might get an answer that sounds something like this:
“I engage progressive, forward-thinking Fortune 500 companies that are seeking to shift their paradigm and adopt more of a global platform. I work with them to facilitate the development of strategic, integrated, highly actionable management solutions, which will boost their bottom line.”
That’s actually an elevator speech, but it’s not a very good one.
When people talk like this, they’re trying to sound impressive. Unfortunately, when we use twenty-five-dollar words, industry jargon and the latest, in-style buzzwords, we end up sounding anything but impressive. Convoluted double-speak is often used to cover up the fact that the speaker really doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.
Plain English, carefully crafted and skillfully delivered, is far more impressive and makes for better elevator speeches than the gobbledygook that too many people believe sounds “intellectual.”
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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