Examples of my understanding of the definition of an elevator speech:
You’re a bright young businesswoman with credentials waiting for an elevator on the first floor and you’re on your way to the eleventh floor for an important meeting at a high class firm. The door opens, and as you step in, Warren Buffett appears behind you, enters the elevator, and pushes the button for the tenth floor. You’re the only two people in the elevator. He notices you and not only asks you what you do for a living but is interested in your career goals. The elevator starts to move. What you say is your elevator speech–and you’ve got a very short time to impress him.
Or…you’re an unpublished novelist and a similar situation occurs but this time it’s your favorite writer, one that you know has influence and helps new writers get in the door with major publishers. You introduce yourself and tell him you’ve written your first novel. He is gracious and then says, “What’s it about?” You’ve got maybe thirty seconds to knock his socks off.
So here’s my elevator speech: It’s about a young female Columbia University journalism student who interns at a small weekly newspaper in Wyoming and reluctantly falls in love with a rancher’s son that works for the Forest Service. Then her life falls apart. And the question is, “How are they going to get back together?” It’s realistic fiction set in New York City, Wyoming, and Colorado during 2008 and 2009. The audience is likely to be those interested in a love story with adventure, suspense, humor, tragedy, the psychological effects on victims of crime, the clash of cultures, the problems of aging, and loss, with a subtle spiritual component. The reader is confronted with a number of these issues and hopefully sees that there are no easy answers…we do the best we can, make our choices in life, and eventually have to trust the people we love and ourselves. And we live with the consequences.