October 4: Elevator Speech Day

On this day in 1911, the first public elevator began service at Earl’s Court Metro Station in London.  In England an elevator is called a “lift,” but whatever it’s called, an elevator ride is a short trip that puts you in a confined space with total strangers.

People who work in the business world make frequent trips on elevators. Maybe that’s why the elevator has become such a powerful communication metaphor in business the past few years.  The “elevator pitch” is a short speech put together by salespeople, entrepreneurs, or other business people to capsulize their ideas and to communicate them clearly to potential clients and investors.  The idea is to know your project, idea, or product so well that you can “sell” it to anyone on a short elevator ride.

In an elevator pitch, time is of the essence, so they must be crafted carefully. Each of the Seven Cs below is followed by advice on how to avoid a clunky ride:

1 Concise:  The speech should be no more than 60 seconds, so each word must count.

2 Clear:  There’s no time to repeat yourself, so make sure that your ideas are clear enough to be understood by your audience.

3 Compelling:  Include a hook, some dramatic tension, and vivid imagery to show your audience that your ideas are important and that something significant is at stake.

4 Credible:  Include credible evidence that shows that you have done your homework and that you know what you’re talking about.

5 Concrete:  Give your audience specific, tangible details and evidence that shows, not just tells, your point.

6 Conversational:  Write out your complete elevator speech, but include plain, forceful language that makes is sound spontaneous and natural.

7 Complete:  Any speech, even a short one, needs a beginning, a middle, and and end.  Organize it with these three parts, writing strategically to open strong, to maintain interest in the middle, and to close confidently(1).

Today’s Challenge:  Going Up with an Up-to-the-Minute Pitch
How would you complete the following title with an idea that would make a compelling speech:  “Why You Should . . . “ ?  Brainstorm some ideas; then, select your best one, and write an elevator pitch that follows the principles of The Seven Cs.  Be prepared to share your pitch, attempting to get as close as you can to the one minute time limit.  Work with a partner to practice, time, and perfect your pitch.  (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Examples of elevator pitch topics:

Why you should floss.

Why you should go to college.

Why you should not be afraid of failure.

Why you should become an organ donor.

Why you should take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Why you should make your speeches short and to the point.

Why you should take notes by hand instead of with a laptop.

(Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day:  The purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale. The goal isn’t even to give a short, accurate, Wikipedia-standard description of you or your project. And the idea of using vacuous, vague words to craft a bland mission statement is dumb. No, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over. -Seth Godwin