Your elevator speech, which is also referred to as an elevator pitch, is a brief description of you and your artwork. It’s the reply you give when someone says, “Tell me about yourself. What kind of art do you make?” It’s a verbal form of description that takes roughly 30 seconds, the approximate time it takes to ride an elevator, which is how the speech got its name. It offers a way to share your creative passion and credentials quickly and effectively with people you’ve just met. In this article I offer advice on how to craft your elevator speech as an artist.
Why is the elevator speech important?
Simply stated, art marketing experts agree the artist who tells the best story will have more art career success. How you introduce yourself to others will make a lasting impression. You want to make the best first impression you can or you may not have another opportunity. It’s important for listeners to take you seriously.
When will you use your elevator speech?
During your art career you will have many opportunities to discuss yourself and your artwork. You’ll use some form of your elevator speech when you are meeting a new acquaintance at a gallery opening, giving a verbal presentation at your one-person exhibition, or engaging in an interview with a gallery owner or member of the press.
A Few Guidelines
Before you speak, think about what you want the person to remember most about you.
Communicate with clarity, confidence, brevity and poise.
Include something you’re most proud of in your speech.
Express the benefits of your artwork.
Strive to connect emotionally with the other person.
Use descriptive “picture” words so your listener can visualize your art.
Speak with honesty and authenticity. Be yourself.
Avoid speaking in a condescending manner that makes the listener feel uncomfortable.
Avoid grandiose and egotistical expressions that will turn people away from you.
Don’t speak in overly technical terms or excessive details that will bore the listener.
Avoid flowery and esoteric language that will alienate you from the listener.
Talk about what you do, what your art is about, not what you don’t do.
Keep it positive.
Preparing your elevator speech requires preparation.
Practice saying it aloud in front of a mirror, until the speed and your manner come naturally, without sounding rehearsed. It may take trying several versions before finding one that is compelling, that expresses how you are unique, and that sounds most natural in conversation.
Vary your words according to the listener.
The words you choose to communicate to a curator will be different than what you say to a potential art buyer who has no art education. That means you’ll want to revise your elevator speech to fit the occasion. Your ultimate goal is to have a conversation that resonates with the listener and makes them want to know more about you and see your art.
Craft an elevator speech that excites you.
Choose words that convey your inspiration. What you say should feel good to you and come from a place of passion and commitment. Although the person may not remember everything that you told them, they will remember whether you are sincere and enthusiastic or not. Your speech should answer the question “why” do you create.
What’s your goal?
Your goal should be to spark interest in what you do. It should attract interest in your project and or creative concept. You want to be interesting without giving every detail. You’ll know your successful when after you tell them your elevator speech they ask a question to learn more. If your talk doesn’t provoke an interest or raise the person’s curiosity then it’s a sign that you need to work on it some more.
Example of a good elevator speech
An artist might say, “I’m a portrait painter who adds a sense of surprise and whimsy in my artwork. My passion is capturing the personality of the person while placing them in their favorite time in history. Two of my portrait paintings appear in the bestselling book Most Innovative Portrait Painters in the U.S.”
Your Artist’s Statement
A similar communication tool is your artist’s statement, which has many of the same goals as your elevator speech. However your artist’s statement is in text format and around 200 words. To learn more about it check out How to Write Your Artist’s Statement.
If you want to receive professional objective feedback about your elevator speech or artist’s statement consider arranging a consultation with me. Learn more.