Elevating your Elevator Speech

by Alexis Rohlfing, Head Editor, INALJ New Hampshire

previously published 5/21/13

Elevating your Elevator Speech

alexisr1We’ve all been told, at one time or another, that we need to perfect our elevator speech. The very name makes you think of something out of Mad Men– a chance encounter that leads to a pitch that leads to a job, all in the space of an elevator ride. Reality can be somewhat more prosaic– with more work done in the digital space, a captive audience on an elevator is not that likely. Serendipity always has a place though, its just a matter or taking advantage of it.

Part of adapting to the digital space has been adapting to various social media platforms-– we are all adept at managing our online presence, at knowing that what works for Twitter may not work for LinkedIn or Facebook. Those skills can easily translate to developing your elevator speech, in all its permutations. First, remember that situations, like social networks, can be different. Sometimes you need more information, something that would be at home on your resume. Other times, you have to be able to sum it all up in a sentence or two. The most important thing is to know your audience, and tailor yourself to it. Remember that your speeches may be useful in person, over the phone, in email, and on your social network of choice. With that in mind, here are some pointers to help elevate your elevator speeches:


  • The Twitter Speech— the foundation of your speech. When you’re limited to 140 characters, you have to be able to make your point in very concise language. Just like when you’re trying to compose that “perfect” pithy tweet, you may need to rewrite this foundational piece a few times to make sure that you are making maximum impact.

  • The LinkedIn Speech— building on your foundation, this would be an elevator speech that fits the classic definition. Think of it as something simple and professional, but more detailed that your Twitter speech. This should be something at home both in the summary section of your LinkedIn profile, but also something easy to remember and talk about should the occasion arise.

  • The Facebook Speech— you can use your Twitter speech as your foundation here as well, but this would be a speech that is more relaxed, and allows a little more of your personality to seep in. Where your LinkedIn Speech is professional and most at home on a resume or very formal interview, this is the speech that would be for a more casual interview, an informational interview, or networking.

  • The Pinterest Speech— ok, I know you’re thinking, how do I base a speech on a completely visual site? This is more conceptual– Pinterest allows people to organize visually, to build a picture. This is your big picture speech. It is less about pithy and more about painting a word picture. This is the type of speech you would use if you are trying to pitch a project or idea, or when asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

  • The Tumblr/Wordpress speech— less of a speech that you’ll use in day to day conversation, and more the introduction you would use with your ePortfolio. This would be more of a blog post style speech, allowing you to convey the most important information about yourself, while also relying on the context it is presented in. Remember, in this example, you’re presenting your speech along with examples of your work– you can show and tell, rather than relying on your introduction to do all the heavy lifting.



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.