WILTON — There’s an old advertising saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Taking that thought into account, Peter Engstrom, a successful Wilton marketing consultant, is going to discuss the importance of creating an effective “elevator speech” to help business professionals make a great first impression.

The discussion will take place at a workshop at Wilton Library on Thursday, Dec. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. Check-in starts at 5:30.

What is an elevator speech?

“It’s something you say when someone asks you what you do. Your response should last no longer than 30 seconds, the length of an elevator ride, which is how the speech got its name,” Engstrom told The Bulletin.

It’s surprising how many business people do not have a succinct elevator speech in their repertoire and often fumble around for words to say about themselves and their businesses, he said.

The elevator speech is not a sales pitch. Rather, it is meant to be an introduction, a brief statement intended to gain the interest of a prospect in 30 seconds.

“You never know where you may unexpectedly encounter a prospective customer or potential emissary for your business — your kid’s soccer games, seminars, sporting events, trade shows and so on,” Engstrom said.

In those circumstances, a short and effective elevator speech can do wonders to stir interest, according to Engstrom.

At the workshop Engstrom will discuss:

 The four key elements of an effective elevator speech.

 How to identify each of these elements.

 How to hone this introduction to your business for different audiences.

 How this tool can be used to help build a “brand” for your business.

 How this tool helps define the key elements of an effective marketing strategy.

“In the speech, you want to tell people who you are, who your targeted customers are, what the specific product/service is you offer, what is different or unique about your offering, and what benefits will the customer realize by choosing you,” Engstrom said.

To cram all that information into a 30-second speech that is interesting for people to hear, takes time crafting and rehearsing it, but is well worth the effort, according to Engstrom.

“An effective elevator speech can create a competitive advantage, a way to differentiate your product or service from your competition,” he said.

After a business owner creates and rehearses a successful elevator speech, Engstrom advises other employees in the business learn the same one. “If everyone in the company has a consistent elevator speech, people realize the benefit about what makes that business different,” he said.

Engstrom has lived in Wilton since 1973. He is the founder and former chief operating officer of Schmersal USA and Steute Meditech. He has been helping small and medium-size industrial firms increase their marketing effectiveness and grow sales since 1981. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart’s College of Business, and as a SCORE volunteer.

“Creating an Effective Elevator Speech” is a free SCORE small business workshop co-sponsored by the Wilton Library, the Wilton Chamber of Commerce and The Wilton Bulletin.

The library is at 137 Old Ridgefield Road.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com