We each have just seconds to make a great first impression. How are you spending those initial seconds when meeting someone for the first time? Have you prepared in advance a personal elevator speech?
Imagine for a moment you are seated at a table for a business social gathering or fundraiser, and you are seated next to a celebrity, the CEO, one of the board of directors, or a wealthy investor. Again, imagine for a moment that you just stepped into an elevator for a job interview, and the CEO of the company is standing right next to you. What do you say? What do you do? Perhaps, the most comfortable reaction is to turn the other way or start pretending to be engaged in work on your smartphone. However, what would happen if we always had a well-thought-out, short 30-60 second elevator speech prepared to seize opportunities to introduce ourselves and make a great first impression.
First impressions are critical in business. First impressions can be heavily influenced not only by what you share verbally but also by your nonverbal communication. Here are some tips to improve your nonverbal communication:
- Show confidence in your posture. Whether you are standing or sitting, straighten your posture.
- Make eye contact. Studies show that women tend to use more eye contact than men to help make that interpersonal connection.
- Shake hands. Be the person who extends his/her hand to give a firm handshake.
- Smile. A smile shows friendliness and warmth.
What is your personal elevator speech? Do you have one? Do you know what one is?
In business, you can think of your elevator speech as a business card. You will want to communicate who you are (without oversharing information that is too personal), what you do for a profession and where you work, and other relative information. When possible, make sure to know your audience.
For years I’ve been teaching students how to prepare a 30-60 second elevator speech. In fact, one of the college courses I teach will be delivering their 30-60 second elevator speeches tonight to the class. This provides them the opportunity to learn from others and perfect their own thoughts and words. These well-thought-out speeches can be used:
- During professional development conferences, workshops, classes, and seminars
- At social settings
- When you unexpectedly need to introduce yourself
- At an interview when you are asked “Tell me about yourself”
- To break the silence of that 20-floor elevator ride
- While on vacation to introduce yourself to others
With each person we encounter, we have the opportunity to grow our professional network. Let’s strive to make a conscious effort to improve our first impression and our 30-60 second elevator speech.