October 4 – Elevator Speech Day

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On this day in 1911, the first public elevator began service at the 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, often with total strangers (1).

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.

When constructing an elevator pitch, remember the mnemonic device PITCH:

P = Point:  Make sure you have a clear main point, a clear claim.

I = Imagery:  Use language that goes beyond just telling your point; instead, use imagery that shows – the kind of language that will captivate your listener’s imagination.

T = Time:  Timing is central for an elevator pitch.  Practice it until you get it down to an exact time that is no more than two minutes.

C = Concrete: Watch out for language that is too abstract.  It’s okay to talk about your ideas, but try to make them as specific as possible by including concrete nouns that will ground your ideas in tangible, real things.

H = Human Interest:  Remember that your audience is made up of real people, and real people are always interested in other real people.  Bring your ideas alive by showing how they relate to and impact real people.

Today’s Challenge:  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 PITCH.  Be prepared to share your pitch, attempting to get as close as you can to the two-minute time limit. Work with a partner to practice, time, and perfect your pitch.

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)

1- The History Calendar. October 4. http://www.thehistorycalendar.com/oct/october-4th.html.

October 3:  Read an Essay Out Loud Day

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On this day in 1890, Harvard Professor Barrett Wendell read an essay aloud to his class of 50 undergraduate English students.  The essay was written by one of the students in the class, a student who would go on to become one of the most important African-American intellectuals and leaders of his generation.  The essay’s author was W.E.B. Du Bois, who signed up for the class because he realized that without the ability to write well, his ideas would never be taken seriously.

Du Bois’ essay was the only one that Professor Wendell read aloud that day.

Formal photograph of W. E. B. Du Bois, with beard and mustache, around 50 years oldDu Bois went on the say many things well as an activist, a sociologist, and a historian.  In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, and in 1909 he co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  He worked his entire life for the cause of civil rights, and he died on August 27, 1963 — one day before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. (1).

Today’s Challenge:  Extra-Sensory Reading

What is the value of reading out loud as a way of reading and of revising your writing?  Reading words aloud or hearing your words read aloud by someone else allows you to experience them in a different way than just seeing them.  Listening and speaking the words involve different senses than just reading with your eyes, allowing you to catch nuances or areas for revision that you might not catch otherwise.  Exchange some of your writing with a partner.  Read each other’s writing with your eyes first, highlighting the parts you particularly like. Then, take turns reading and listening to each other’s writing. (Common Core Writing 5 – Writing Process)

1-W.E.B. Du Bois (Bloom’s Modern Critical Views) Harold Bloom, editor. Chelsea House Publications, 2002.