Career Tips

Back to the Basics: The Elevator Speech

By Calvin McDaniel

Have you ever been to a career fair and fumbled with your words in front of employers, desperately trying to fight your way through awkward silences?  Or, have you ever been to a networking event and had no clue what to say to strike up conversation?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  At one point, I too dreaded these seemingly uncomfortable situations.  However, during my first semester in the Master of Human Resources and Labor Relations program (HRLR) here at MSU, I learned how to effectively and purposefully leave a lasting impression with my elevator speech. (Thanks Dr. Yakura; Organizational Behavior Professor)

An elevator speech is like a mini bio used to introduce yourself to unfamiliar people.  It should be able to convey a good amount of information in a short period of time.  It should be no longer than 45 seconds but no shorter than 30.  Information included should be professional, which means no personal details (they don’t want to hear about your marital status, how many children you have, etc.)

Components of an elevator speech:

  • Name
  • Occupation (student, accountant, hr manager, etc)
  • Education (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Specialization (diversity and inclusion, social media consulting, etc)
  • Professional Involvement (SHRM, NSBE, etc)
  • Career Goals
  • Objective for the encounter (why are you there? what are you looking to gain from the encounter?)
  • Follow up statements or questions

Obviously, this is just a simple guide to get you started. You can include, exclude or add whatever you feel necessary.  Remember you want it to be concise and punchy, leaving a lasting impression! 

Now that you know what to possibly include, take some time, put yours together and practice.  Once you get this down, you will be on your way to becoming an expert networker, socializer and ice breaker!


Calvin McDaniel is an Alumni Career Services Assistant in the MSUAA and a graduate student in the Human Resource and Labor Relations program at MSU. He has a passion for helping people to reduce conflict, manage change, and grow toward their potential.


1 comment

  1. Calli 11 December, 2012 at 09:43

    Your components of an elevator speech makes a handy checklist! I especially appreciated the point about being concise and punchy. Nothing is worse than an elevator speech that has gone on too long.

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