Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's Your Elevator Speech?

Elevator speech, you know, that concise, "WOW-you-do-that!?", knock-their-socks-off in a 30 story elevator ride hopefully leading to, "Tell me more!" as the doors open. Highly desired by entrepreneurs, inventors and those wishing pitchman Anthony "Sully" Sullivan will do an infomercial on their incredible life-changing product or service.

The idea behind the elevator speech for everyone else is to be able to respond to the staple, age-old American culture question, "What do you do?"

What do you do? Can you give a positive, look-me-in-the-eyes, easy to understand picture of what you do without an "uh" or two and delivered with passion?

Elevator speeches are directly connected to our personal vision. Got a personal vision? Is your personal vision complete with knowing and living your core values and beliefs, knowing your purpose of why you exist and how you are using your gifts and talents and knowing your "trip-tik" to the future you wish to create?

Recently, I attended a presentation by Ed Muzio, author and change-agent ( who shared a formula to creating and delivering an effective elevator speech. He suggested an elevator speech needs to focus on results. He calls it Verbalized Summary Objectives or VSOs.

His formula is simple. You develop five to seven VSOs which consist of:

I spend ____ of my resources working/being/doing with _____ on creating ______ (results).

Here are my VSOs...

I spend 20% of my time being a co-collaborator in God's Creation, a husband to my wife, a father to my children, a friend and resource to others hopefully leaving them better than I found them. I spend 20% of my time "sharpening my saw" - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to drive me out of my comfort zone into my learning zone. I spend 20% of my time marketing my gifts, talents and work with Montreat College to others living my and the college's core values. I spend 30% of my time designing and "playing" with teams using experience-based learning to help break phantom rules and transition to new possibilities. I spend 10% of my time meeting, taking care of paperwork and putting out fires to support the communities I am involved.

Ideally, your VSOs should add up to 100%.

In A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh, Pooh and Piglet have a conversation...

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

It's the beginning of a new year. This is great time to reflect, explore your personal vision and develop an elevator speech that motivates you to get of bed in the morning with a Piglet frame of mind!


Bill Treasurer, Giant Leap Consulting said...

Good stuff. Elevator speeches are a great way for individuals, and groups, to cut away the clutter and get to what matters most.

We use elevator speech "cocktail parties" when we do them with groups. We ask everyone to first sketch out their speech (the speech they'd give when asked "what does your organization do?"). Then we ask everyone to mingle around the room, introducing themselves to one another, giving their repective speeches.

At the end of the exercise, we have a group conversation about the commonalities and differences in the ways everyone talked about the organization.

Almost always, people agree that their own speech improved by hearing the speech of others.

TerryH said...

Elevator speeches have always been a challenge for me because I think I have more than 100% of a life! And that's a good problem to have.
But I am certain that even after 17years of MindSpring I still use too many "uh's" and "hmmmm's" when asked, "What does MindSpring do?" So, good pointers for getting the gist of it into a manageable couple of sentences.