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Home > Topics > Community Awareness
August 06, 2013
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The PR Medic
by Josh Weiss

How to give an EMS elevator speech

Like a good pick-up line, introductions should be memorable

By Josh Weiss

How do you introduce yourself? Are you creating the intended impression that elicits the desired action?  If not, perhaps you are not selling yourself — or your agency — as well as you could be.

Think of it like a single guy/gal trying to get a date. There are a lot of different kinds of pick-up lines that can be successful. There are even more that are crash and burns. They key is finding the approach that works best for your personality and find the right match. 

Your professional introduction, commonly called an elevator speech, is a lot like delivering a pick-up line. 

An elevator speech is a concise, 30-second summary where you quickly introduce yourself with the goal of being memorable. The reference to an elevator relates to the idea that you only have the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. You want to quickly leave an impression and create a desired reaction.

This does matter in the EMS industry, although more to non-field employees. A good elevator speech is important to anyone that represents your agency to external customers, such as HR staff to potential employees, marketers who talk to care facilities, and supervisors or managers that attend events or represent the company to local community leaders or decision makers.   

If you don’t know where to begin when crafting an effective elevator speech, you’re not alone.  Most people don’t have a pre-conceived, practiced introduction. Frankly, it’s often obvious they don’t when they introduce themselves.

An example of a bad introduction is something like:  Hi my name is Josh and I’m a realtor.  If that’s the first thing people hear, unless you’re at that very moment in need of a realtor, you’ve already tuned that person out. 

In comparison, the handful of people who give a good introduction really stand out in a crowd.   

You should have two primary goals for your elevator speech. 

  1. Paint an interesting, mental/visual picture of what it is you do.
  2. Create a call to action. 

Even better, if you let your personal passion come through, your introduction will succeed.

I often get complimented on my elevator speech, so let’s use it as an example.

Have you ever heard of the ten to one rule?  (pause- look for head nods or hands) The ten to one rule is that it takes 10 good things to be said about your company to equal one bad. And since it’s only a matter of time until a negative story is going to be said about your company—legitimate or false—it’s essential to build up your good will bank to protect your image and reputation. I believe in this philosophy so strongly, that I named my public relations company 10 to 1 Public Relations. I have some simple, yet very effective tricks to help companies tell their story to media reporters and potential customers to help them build their business.

For me, this has been a very successful conversation starter. I begin by asking a question to engage my audience, then they immediately hear my passion in building a positive image for my clients. I also make it easy to receive the intended follow-up question — which is often a variation of:  what simple, yet very effective tricks do I use to help my clients build their business? 

This allows me to then turn it back around to their business and share some examples of what I would do to help them. 

Here’s some tips to building your own introduction.

  1. Hook them: Start with a rhetorical question or a one sentence story that explains why you’re passionate. Here are a couple examples:  Have you or someone you love ever needed an ambulance? Well when I was eight-years-old, an ambulance came to my house to help my mom and I immediately knew that one day, I was going to be a Paramedic so that I could help people too.

    Or let’s say you’re a financial advisor, a good opening sentence might be:  I’ve been helping clients with their investments for XX years.  But a few years ago I attended a conference that had a real effect on me…
  2. Explain your approach/what makes you unique from your competitors: It’s okay to have 2 or 3 unique examples, but only share one — using the example most appropriate to the person/people whom you’re talking. 
  3. Create a call to action: Ask them a follow-up question or make it easy to get them to ask you a question or to share their own related experience to build a connection. 

You’ll also want 2 or 3 variations of your elevator pitch-adaptable depending to whom you’re talking. However many variations you have though, the base of your introduction should be consistent. The more you practice and tell it the easier and more natural sounding your elevator speech will become. 

If you still need help, feel free to email me your draft. I’m always good for an opinion!

About the author

Josh Weiss served as the national Director of Public Relations for Rural/Metro Corporation, a leading national provider of private ambulance and fire protection services, and as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for American Traffic Solutions, a national leader in traffic safety cameras. In the past 15 years, Josh has worked with hundreds of external and internal clients including public and private companies in the healthcare and technology industries, government municipalities, police and fire Departments, and community organizations to build positive brands and manage reputations. He now operates 10 to 1 Public Relations.
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