3 steps to a perfect ‘elevator speech’

The best advice for making the best possible first impression may come from none other than Vanilla Ice.

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My hometown of St. Louis has seen a surge in entrepreneurial activity. Each day brings with it a new organization to support startups and, with that, another set of networking events.

Where there are networking events for entrepreneurs, you are sure to hear one thing: elevator speeches, quick presentations that explain what you do, generate excitement and move a prospect into buying mode in less than one minute. Culturally, elevator speeches have been heralded as a marketing magic bullet. Some of this excitement is due to “Shark Tank,” networking gurus and a bubbling fascination with Silicon-Valley-esque lifestyles.

Regardless of popularity, most elevator speeches are inherently bad. That is not because entrepreneurs are stupid or lack enthusiasm. It’s just that an effective one is an artform rarely achieved. They are so difficult that “This American Life” recently had an episode devoted to crafting an elevator pitch, and you can hear just how uncomfortable an intelligent, articulate and passionate person sounds when attempting one.

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