August 2006 - Guest Editorial

“…And, What Do You Do?”

By Marty M. Fahncke

Uh oh, not again! You’re at the ERA Annual Convention, and you’ve just been introduced to a major investor by a mutual acquaintance. After shaking your hand, he’s asked the standard question…”And, what do you do?” If you’re like many people, what you do is panic. Your brain freezes. Your tongue ties itself into knots. By the time you stumble over “Um, I’m in marketing,” it’s over. The moment is gone, and his attention has moved on to someone else.

Avoid situations like this, and make the most of every networking event, conference or unexpected introduction by arming yourself with an attention grabbing “elevator speech.” An elevator speech is a concise, effective introduction designed to convey a positive first impression.

Don’t get caught in the trap of making your elevator speech too long. Your only goal is to spark interest. Limit yourself to 15-20 seconds. This will either invite a longer conversation then and there, an invitation to talk later or a determination that further conversation is not necessary-freeing you up to meet someone else.

An elevator speech should convey three things:

  • Who you are
  • What you do (with a hook)
  • Why someone would want to know you better

Let’s break each of these down:

Who you are - This one is simple. “Hi, I’m John Jones.”

What you do - This should contain a benefit to the listener (a hook). A simple “I’m in product development” doesn’t cut it. To create more of an impact, try something like “I’ve developed a hat that modifies the human metabolism, so anyone wearing it can eat as much as they want and never gain weight.” Think about the benefits (not features) of your product, company or project, then integrate them into your elevator speech. This draws the person in. Your elevator speech should make the prospect say, “Wow!”

Why someone would want to know you better - This is part filter, part call to action. For most business people, not everyone can realistically be considered a prospect. Therefore, the final piece of your elevator speech separates the wheat from the chaff. It should be direct and to the point. “I’m looking for investors willing to put up at least $100,000 to bring my product to market.”

Once you recite the elevator speech, shut up. Let the other person absorb it and respond. Once the ice is broken, the conversation will flow naturally for both of you.

Writing a great elevator speech is step one. Step two is to memorize it. Step three is to practice it until it comes out of your mouth without even thinking about it.

You’ll quickly find that having a clear, concise and professional sounding introduction will set you apart from the masses, and get you noticed in a positive way.

By following this advice, the next time you meet someone and they ask, “What do you do?”…you’ll be ready!

Marty M. Fahncke is president of FawnKey & Associates, a business advisory and consulting firm. He can be reached at (801) 352-1337, or visit



  • By Mr.Carrot27, October 22, 2009 @ 10:11 am

    Some were written by youth and some by adults, each retaining their own style and world- view. ,

  • By Stinky69, October 23, 2009 @ 7:56 am

    Aging parents, children leaving home, or the serious illness of someone you love often add stress during this time. ,

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