On Elevator Speeches

December 27, 2010

On one of the LinkedIn groups, somebody asked about the relevance of elevator speeches.  It became an involved discussion, mostly criticizing the canned theatrical speeches that are becoming so common.

Into that mix, I offered the following:

Forget the words “speech” or “pitch”.

We need quick easy short ways to say what we do, without sounding like a speech, without intimidating. What we say should interest, perhaps excite, should invite questions, and should be very non-technical.

One of mine: “Have you heard of user friendly computers? Well, I help put the ‘user’ and ‘friendly’ into those products”.

Another: “I ask questions. Good questions. People learn from the experience of answering them. It’s kind of like coaching, but I don’t like that name.”

Or: “I inject doses of creativity into work groups that are bored with dull mediocrity”.

All of these are deliberately incomplete. They all invite responses. And they all feel very natural from me.

Of course, elevator speeches don’t tell our whole story.  they can’t,  and they shouldn’t.  But they may provoke discussion that leads to an understanding of our story.

I hope that mine plant healthy seeds, that will nourish and grow.

More important than my “elevator speech” is my pair of “elevator ears”.  Perhaps I’ll write another blog post about how to turn any moment into a listening moment.