(for an audio version of this blog please click on the link at the end of this written version)
As a business owner and someone who appreciates an opportunity to connect and network with fellow creative entrepreneurs I delight rubbing elbows with fellow professionals and aspiring business owners. One way I do this is through my local Chamber of Commerce and its Greeters networking group. Our weekly meetings are scheduled on a work day morning and along with announcements for upcoming events, the introduction of new members and some socializing, each member gets a full 30 seconds to talk about their profession and how it benefits others.
We have quite a lively group of participants with some among us being very creative with our allotted delivery of 30 second facts, figures and framing of what we do and why. These folks make things fun and are remembered for the messages they share. Others seem to struggle to come up with the words and delivery that will make an impact on their captive audience of fellow business owners. And a good portion of the half minute speeches are pretty much the same message delivered every week in the same way.
These thirty second spotlights are a wonderful opportunity to brush up on a person’s so called elevator speech. You know, that little interlude on the ride up or down an elevator when someone may ask the question which brings either joy or terror to the heart of the quizzed individual as in “So, what do you do?” Traditional business advice is abundantly available on the proper delivery of the why’s, how’s and what’s during this half minute ticket to business heaven or hell. The outcome of course is dependent upon the level of preparedness and willingness to participate in answering the question.
The free ticket for that ride in the captive elevator quiz box will either result in an answer which takes the inquisitor to client and customer paradise or pure unplanned purgatory. This most likely explains just why most people stay silent on an elevator journey with others they don’t know. They’re deathly afraid that someone may pop the question. And the ones who ask the question? Their motivation is primarily based one of two things. If they ask first they gain the high ground and are hoping the ride will last only long enough for the askee to stammer something barely coherently sufficient before the doors slide open and they can make their escape. Or they’re so confident in their own elevator speech that they’ll cut their unsuspecting victim off in mid-sentence and launch, barrels blazing, into their own.
The fact is most of us don’t prepare well enough or have the confidence to deliver a well thought out and executed elevator speech. Personally I feel that most such encounters are of little use to either the presenter or their audience. It’s when someone comes up with a message that is clever, humorous, or interesting enough that your elevator, buffet, or transportation counter line captive audience takes genuine interest in what you say. When they do is when things begin to work in your favor.
Most of us envision big things for our life. We have a desire for more than basic needs and a dream of firmly grasping the rings of opportunity as they fly by our grasp on the merry-go-round and round traverse of the path we’ve chosen to pursue. So, these little elevator speeches are a great opportunity to share those dreams and our how’s and why’s of pursuing them that we harbor and are genuinely excited about. They’re often a long time in creating and take a lifetime in executing to make them the reality we desire.
One example of this is a singer songwriter raised in Brooklyn New York by the name of Edward Mahoney. He had tried to follow in the footsteps of his brother and father and become a police officer. Unfortunately Eddie wasn’t cut out for the thin blue line and instead headed to the West Coast eventually ending up at Berkeley.
There he met a girl who captured his heart. Unfortunately his wallet was a little light and didn’t fit the young woman’s mother’s idea of an ideal capture for her daughter’s lifetime financial security. You see Eddie was working his way through school as a receiving clerk at a department store and playing gigs with various bands on the weekends. As he put it, “Her mother would do everything in the world to get her away from me on the weekends so she could meet a nice doctor or lawyer or CPA”. The girl finally dumped Edward but not before he wrote a song about her and a trip he was dreaming of them taking together on a bus, to the Redwoods. Eddie did keep his dreams completely grounded in reality after all. Later in life he related how the song was written not so much about the place he wanted the two of them to go so much as it being about the state of mind in actually accomplishing a desired goal.
You may be wondering how this relates to networking and 30 second elevator speeches, so allow me to tie these seeming loose ends together for you. In 1978 Eddie dropped out of school with only six credits to go before graduation. While this doesn’t sound too great a plan or advisable to most. What he did instead is sign a record deal which led to recording his first album and a single titled “Two Tickets to Paradise”. It rose on the music charts and ended up at number 22, becoming one of Eddies most famous and enduring songs. Oh and along the way Edward Mahoney felt he might benefit from a more catchy stage name and changed it to Eddie Money. How prophetic.
It took a few years of networking and performing in front of people before Eddie’s elevator speech caught on and he was recognized for his talents. His ticket to paradise came in the form of sharing a personal story that resonated with his intended audience. As Eddie put it, It’s a state of mind”, both his own and his audience’s. He just helped set the stage with a compelling and relatable story and people bought a ticket to share in the adventure he helped them create in their mind.
Working on our personal message, or elevator speech if you will, is an important element in creating a compelling message which will interest others and help them build a bridge between themselves and the product or service you are pouring your heart and soul into. By the way if you’re not feeling the passion for the thing you’re doing or pursuing, it may just be time to consider evaluating your journey in life and finding the path that will lead you in the direction that’s best for you. Whether it’s a career, an education or a way of life, we are all ultimately responsible for our own ticket to paradise, and the one people choose to purchase from us, because of the tune we choose to sing to them. I’m Michael from the Davis Arts Legacy. I create for a living and help others create a life worth living. And so can you. Let’s Talk!... Until Next time
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