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How Physicians Can Use an Elevator Speech to Promote Their Practices


Do you have a concise answer to someone asking you what it is you do as a physician? If not, you may be confusing patients and colleagues. Here are a few tips.

In a previous article, I told you how to optimize the paper real estate on your business card to promote your practice effectively.

Does your business card describe what you do in some boring and predictable way? Do your potential patients look at your business card or hear what you do and say, "Wow - you can help me!"or "Tell me more about how you do that?"

In this blog post, I’ll summarize how you can create a succinct statement about what you do that will get that reaction from your potential patients (and even colleagues).

What is an elevator speech?

In the sales and business world, an elevator speech is a short summary of what you do to help customers.

Imagine being in an elevator with your ideal patient or some colleague you’ve dreamed of working with. The elevator door closes, and you have about five seconds to tell this person what you do and make a dramatic first impression.

To do that, you need to plan your "elevator speech" ahead of time.

Who is it for?

Use your elevator speech when meeting people socially who ask you what you do.

Use it when networking with colleagues or referring physicians.

Use it in print and other media, both off and online to communicate to patients what your practice is all about.

Just saying you’re an endocrinologist may or may not resonate with people. Even other physicians may not know exactly what you do after you simply name your specialty.

For example, as a hand surgeon, I’m almost forced to come up with something more complex than "orthopedic surgeon" to describe what I do. I don’t want patients and colleagues concluding that I do ACL surgery on knees or total hip replacements.

How do I create an elevator speech?

I’ll use my current business card job description as an example here:

“An orthopedic surgeon dedicated to solving hand and arm problems using the latest surgical and non-surgical strategies”

For this statement, I’ve expanded "orthopedic surgeon" to accomplish several objectives:

• Tell patients specifically what area I focus on

• Communicate that I’m not just a scalpel-happy surgeon - I treat things non-surgically as well

• I use up-to-date techniques to fix problems

• I’m a problem solver and a strategist

• I’m dedicated to my patients - passionate about making them better

Determine what key ideas you want to communicate about what you do and incorporate those into your elevator speech. It’s a kind of mission statement, but delivered in easy-to-understand language, not vague corporate-speak.

You may come up with different versions of your elevator speech, for use in several situations (with potential patients, colleagues, in social environments).

You can get very specific or very broad. For example, an allergist might say, "I help allergy sufferers eliminate their symptoms permanently." To arouse curiosity, a general surgeon might say, "I stop bellyaches for a living."

Most of us have a crystal clear picture of how we want to be perceived by patients and colleagues. Working and implementing a solid elevator speech will go a long way towards making that picture clear to others as well.

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