Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions

3 Simple Steps to Developing an Effective 90 Second Elevator Speech

Can you describe what you do in 90 seconds or less and make it sound interesting? Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t because most people can’t, and the reason is they don’t know how. In my presentation 90 Seconds to Impact: Building Influence and Driving Career Success that I delivered at the 2012 ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Denver, I shared 3 easy steps for developing an effective 90 second elevator pitch. Not only did I share the 3 easy steps, everyone in attendance actually practiced and received immediate feedback on how well they did using the steps. The good news for you is this – not only will I share the steps with you, you can also watch the video covering the tips as well.


So here are the 3 easy steps to develop an effective and memorable 90 second elevator pitch.


Step 1: Identify What is Unique About What You Do

When asked what do they do, most people state their job title or launch into a lengthy speech describing their job duties and tasks. You know what I’m talking about. Responses such as trainer, teacher, HSE manager, sales manager, customer advocate, retail manager, etc. Boring! The difference between everybody else and successful people is quite simple – while everybody else is trying hard to fit in, successful people are trying hard to stand out. So make what you do sound intriguing. Start by identifying something unique about what you do or describing (in a creative way) the immense value you deliver by doing what you do. One of the best examples of a very creative statement is used by Cesar Millan – widely known as The Dog Whisperer. Known as the Dr. Phil for Dogs, Cesar proudly states that he “rehabilitates dogs and trains people.” How cool does all of that sound? With some trial and error, you too can easily come up with an equally intriguing way of describing what you do. Talk to friends and family to help you brainstorm ideas, and test them out. The only thing that stands between you and a creative way of describing what you do is you, so don’t wait. Go ahead and start brainstorming ideas right now as you read the rest of this article.


Step 2: Use a Question to Create a Two Way Conversation

Most elevator speeches are monologues delivered in the presence of a hostage. Stop doing that. Seriously. You turn people off in the first 30 seconds when you bore them with the usual irrelevant stuff. To create dialogue, simply identify a question you can ask that automatically results in the other person asking a follow up question such as, “so how do you do that?” For example, when asked what does he do, Cesar could respond by simply asking a question such as this: Have you or someone you know ever had a dog that needed a Dr. Phil for Dogs? Most people would respond with a “yes”, and Cesar could follow up by saying, “Well, I am the Dr. Phil for dogs. I rehabilitate dogs, and I train people”.  Now he’s got you hooked because you naturally would like to learn more about this guy just based on his intriguing introduction.  That sounds a helluva lot better than saying he’s a dog trainer, doesn’t it?


Step 3: Keep It Simple and Straight to the Point

This is perhaps the most difficult of the 3 steps. Why? Most people want to ramble on about what they do. To make an effective elevator speech, keep it simple and manage the conversation so that you’re being asked questions rather than telling about or selling yourself. The more questions you’re asked, the more effective your elevator speech is. So build in simplicity with intrigue, and you’ve got a winning formula. Here is a simple way to measure your effectiveness: In the first 1.5 – 3 minutes of the conversation, if there are very few questions being asked of you and you’re doing most of the talking, you’re probably talking too much.


Crafting a powerfully effective 90 second elevator speech takes practice and effort, and it is one of the most powerful tools for building influence and developing trust – traits that are critical to career success.  If you’re a manager, ensuring your employees are prepared to deliver a great elevator pitch for your business also happens to be a powerful way to build credibility and increase conversion rates for sales. Use my 3 steps, and watch my video How to Deliver a Powerful Elevator Speech to start crafting your attention grabbing speech today.


When people ask me what do I do, my response is this: Have you ever been ticked off at work? Of course, who hasn’t? At Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions, we help people stay ticked ON at work. As employee engagement experts, we work with managers to help them keep their employees ticked ON, and we help employees keep their managers ticked ON.


If you are a manager seeking to significantly improve your team’s performance or if you want more strategies for improving your individual level of success, visit our website and email me today at



That is excellent advice Sardek. A lot of Sales People are particularly bad at describing what they do, instead they describe what their product does!
Thanks for providing a clear structure to work to.

Author of “Professional Selling”
“transforming sales people into sales professionals”

Thanks for the great feedback! Another good friend of mine uses what he calls the 17 words or less approach to the elevator speech. And that also makes sense. When we stop stating our job titles and tasks or describing our products as what we do, it makes the elevator speech a very effective conversation tool. Thanks again for your excellent feedback!



I was laid off from down sizing, I went to my local unemployment WorkSource center. Part of the workshop being held, a question was asked to the participants ‘can you give a 90 second elevator speech about yourself?’. They briefly went over the concept (very little) so I did a web search and found your insight. This was very good, thank you.


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