November 2016

Annoyed by Elevator Speeches? Try an “Impact Message” Instead!

By Ken Lizotte, CMC

When a program host invites audience attendees to stand up and give their “30-second elevator speech,” you should jump right up and be the first to go. Not only will you be grabbing an unexpected chance to practice, but also what you say in those 30 seconds may put you as much in the spotlight as the keynote speaker. Rather than react with annoyance to the elevator speech segment of a business event, actuaries and other finance professionals should seize the opportunity to make their brand both known and attractive.

For example, I call my elevator speech an “impact message” and have relationship capital expert Jim Masciarelli to thank for it, as Jim is the thoughtleader who designed it. That’s because my impact message typically turns heads my way because it hits fellow attendees squarely where they live. My impact message follows Masciarelli's careful construction as described in his book PowerSkills (Nimbus Press):

“Hello, my name is Ken Lizotte, I’m with emerson consulting group in Concord Massachusetts,” I begin, then after a momentary pause (for effect), I say, “where I make my clients famous!

“I do this by helping them get their ideas published and acquire speaking engagements, thereby positioning them as thoughtleaders and go-to authorities in their field.

“If you’d like more recognition in your target market as a leading thinker and practitioner in your field, come see me tonight so we can exchange business cards and talk later.

“Again: Ken Lizotte, emerson consulting group, I make my clients famous.”

Then I sit down as folks in the room murmur among themselves and make quiet plans to approach me and exchange business cards at the break or when the formal program ends.

How can you follow my lead? How can you compose an impact message of your own?

It's a simple process, actually. By following Jim Masciarelli’s template, you can soon be doing what I do, i.e., transforming these pesky elevator speech “chores” into a dazzling 30-second keynote-like spotlight. Here’s how, step by step:

THE ATTENTION GRABBER:Hello my name is _____________(add here your company name and/or location and/or website) and I _____________________ (catchy value proposition needed here, something very clever but short that will catch everyone’s attention)

THE EXPLANATION:I do this by (specific deliverable here so that fellow attendees quickly learn how you do this)_________________________________,

THE RESULT:… thereby (add specific outcome here, i.e., what occurs as a result of the “how” of what you do) ______________________________________

SUGGEST WHAT THEY MIGHT GAIN FROM YOU: So if you’d like to gain/get/learn to ____________________ (restate a benefit that people or companies might gain from your services, but using different words, for variety’s sake, that reaffirm your specific value) then come see me at the break or after the program so we can exchange business cards.

REPEAT: your name, company and/or location and/or website, and opening “attention grabber.”

Is this worth trying? I can only attest that it has served me very well over the years, drawing prospects in any given audience my way to at least chat and exchange business cards, but in many cases leading to new business as well. And all I had to do was stand up at my seat for 20 to 30 seconds and speak no more than 100 words! No PPT slides, no hours of preparation, no 60 to 90 minutes of delivering a presentation. And no traditional elevator speech!

I recommend that you experiment with this formula at a collegial gathering of the SOA or when you are next in the midst of executives and professionals who might actually need your specific services. I predict that you, like me, will enjoy a pleasant impact in return, in the form of reactions from attendees who eagerly turn themselves into qualified prospects for you as well as spread the word by repeating your easy-to-remember attention grabber.

Before long, your annoyance with elevator speeches will be a distant memory and a thing of the past. Developing business will never have seemed so easy!


Ken Lizotte, CMC,is CIO (chief imaginative officer) of emerson consulting group inc., which transforms finance experts and professional service firms into “thoughtleaders.” This article is adapted from two of his books, The Expert’s Edge (McGraw-Hill) and The Speaker’s Edge (Maven House Press). To learn more, visit