How To Toot Your Horn Without Blowing It by Roz Usheroff

Being humble is admirable, but it could be a career blocker. Most people don’t know how to explain their value, and if you never talk about your vocational accomplishments, your workplace progress could come to a standstill.

It’s crucial to be prepared to promote yourself in a meaningful way, and that requires having a well-crafted elevator speech at the ready.

Roz Toot Your Own Horn Pitch

The point of the elevator speech is that it allows you to capture the essence of what you do. It’s not necessarily to move others to adopt your idea but rather to offer information that begins a conversation.  It’s a chance to:

·         Talk about your accomplishments and promote your credibility.

·         Let people know what you’re good at and what you can handle.

·         Showcase what makes you essential to the business.

The trick is to customize the message to your audience so that you present your elevator speech differently to different audiences.

However, we become skeptical when an elevator speech sounds commercial-like. If anything even hints at being a sales-pitch or fake sounding, people tune it out.  If you rehearse it to the point where it is always the same, you might miss the chance to address the most important points for that person.

It’s helpful to think of your elevator speech like a 30-second commercial. It’s a great way to begin a conversation and offer the other person something compelling to consider.

At its core, the elevator speech needs to answer the question: What do you do?


You need to create a brag bag including: 

  • 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past several years.
  • What have you done to contribute to those successes?

Next, here are a few of my basic rules for crafting an elevator speech:

*  Communicate your Unique Selling Proposition immediately, focusing on the benefits that people will gain by knowing or working with you. This is a description of what you do, not your title.

*  Display your acumen and unique insights into what you do.

*Be concise. You want to intrigue someone so they say: “Wow. Tell me more.” (That’s really the ultimate goal)

*Don’t mention your title or company name right away.

*  Invest in rehearsal time. Practice your speech with people who know you well, and listen to their feedback. Remember, you want to sound natural, enthusiastic and approachable, not stale or arrogant.

In short, your goal is to be brief and persuasive and spark interest in what you do. Think of your elevator speech as a presentation that occurs as part of a natural conversation.

In any conversation there is almost always a 30-second moment that makes the meeting memorable. One way to craft your elevator speech is to borrow some best practices from top-notch TV commercials.

1.       Deliver a clear message. One size does not fit all, so consider your audience (internally or externally) and tailor your message and delivery accordingly. Tell it as a story, and talk in points that inject the listener. Make sure to pause when appropriate to allow people to digest what you are saying.

2.       Differentiate yourself. Let your audience know that you’re not just fulfilling a role but that you’re making results happen. Look at the bottom line: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would the cost be to your organization? Your clients?

3.       Explain why you are excited about what you are doing. This gets you out of hey-look-at-me-aren’t-I-great mode. Ask yourself this question: What do you want your audience to remember most about why you love what you do? Have concrete examples available.

4.       Know your talking points. Figure out ahead of time the three to five key points you want to leave your listener with.

Once you’ve crafted your elevator speech, it’s important to avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice, the more you’ll get used to naturally delivering your message rather than sounding too formulaic or prepared.

And while you don’t want to be self-conscious, be conscious of your body language and be aware of any of subliminal messages you may be communicating. One good way to do this is to ask your friends and family to critique your speech and point out any nervous habits or mixed messages you might be conveying. In addition, practice in front of a mirror and critically evaluate your delivery.

Lastly, understand the role that silence plays in your elevator speech. In other words, learn to stop talking after you’ve delivered the hook. You need to give the listener time to contemplate what you have said and become intrigued enough to ask you questions.

Bottom line: The well-prepared elevator speech that focuses on what you bring to the game is as critical to your business success as the real-time results you produce.

Here’s a sample that outlines a value proposition likely to prompt the listener to say “tell me more”.

Investment and insurance advisor: “Hello, I’m Brian Ashe. I get to help families live out their dreams by advising them on sound financial investments. Not only do they get to see their portfolios grow to their expectations, they feel greater peace of mind about what their future will look like. “


At your next networking opportunity, whether you’re seeking out new customers, job opportunities or a career change, beware of the following:

1.       Not reading your listener’s body language: Although you’re excited to explain what you do and how you do it, there’ll be times when your listener’s attention span is short or distracted.

2.       Not leading with results first: By explaining how you help others, your listener can see how what you do can be relevant to them personally.

3.       Not quoting others: Tooting your own horn doesn’t mean that you have to boast.  Prepare your third party testimonials using specific quotes.

So, the next time you find yourself at a business function, think about what sets you apart from others and how you can highlight your distinctive qualities.

Roz Udemy Facebook

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Wishing you continued success!

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  1. Pitching your idea or story, and the 20 second rule | - March 10, 2015

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