I was at a church planting event some years ago when someone asked, “Tell me what you do.” Saying “I plant churches” didn’t seem to capture what I was doing, since I was already coaching other leaders and leading the occasional workshop on evangelism and church growth. But to be honest, I wasn’t prepared and I stumbled a bit. My “elevator speech” hadn’t yet been honed.

For the uninitiated, an elevator speech is a thirty-second to two-minute response to “Who are you?” and/or “What do you do?” It’s your chance to share your heart, your mission, and/or your vision with someone who’s actually interested. And that means you had better make a good impression.

Since my fumbled opportunity, I’ve discovered that many, if not most, pastors get a bit tongued tied when they’re in a similar situation … especially if they’re caught off guard by someone who’s thoroughly unchurched.

The following paragraphs come from Robert W. Bly’s Marketing Handbook. One of the students in my Pastoral Leadership class at the Mid-America Center of Ministry shared this with me. It was such a good plan for putting together a great elevator speech, that I just had to share it.

First, begin with the words “Do you know? The question “Do you know” identifies the main point or need that you can address. Let’s say your concern is about middle aged women who may be separated, divorced, or widowed, in your area. The next question might be, “Do you know, when women get divorced, or make an attempt to re-enter the community after many years of depending on their husbands, they are overwhelmed by all the decisions they have to make?”

The second part of the formula is the statement that begins with the words “What I do” or “What we do”, followed by a clear description of the service you can deliver. “What we do is to help women to get control of their lives and achieve their goals.”

Third, present a big benefit using the words “so that”. Here’s what the whole thing sounds like. “Do you know when women, when women get divorced, or make an attempt to re-enter the community after many years of depending on their husbands, they are overwhelmed by the decisions they have to make? What we do is help women gain control of their finances and achieve their personal financial and investment goals, so that they can stay in the houses they have lived in all their adult lives, have enough income to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and be free of money worries.

Robert W. Bly Marketing Plan Handbook.

Question: Share your elevator speech in the comments section below and let’s compare.