You have probably heard of elevator speeches, but may be fuzzy on the concept. It started as a business idea: you meet the Head Honcho in an elevator, and have about 60 seconds to wow her with your big idea. This is your shot, you don’t want to throw it away!
This has kind of expanded to encompass all kinds of advocacy speech, but the basic idea remains the same.
You probably already do this on a daily basis – talking about the things your library has, does, and provides. An elevator speech is just a way to formalize it, and to help you give the best presentation of your ideas.
When do you want to use this kind of presentation? Usually, when you need to make your point quickly, and move on. If you just have a minute or two with someone, and you need to get out your message – it’s elevator speech time!
Everyone knows how easy it is to have something important to share – and spend time talking around the topic, or stammering with the flow of words inside your head happening faster than you can speak them. What is the cure for this?? Just as if you wanted to go to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice!
It is pretty easy to get your elevator speech ready. First: pick out a topic! This is probably something that will be obvious, or something in your library you really want other people to know.
Next: what is important here? What should people know about your issue? Make a few notes, so you don’t lose track of ideas. Then start sorting them out. You only have 60 seconds, it’s only a few sentences. What is THE most important point? That is where you are going! And then you can keep building up the supporting points to that idea.
Do you have an understanding co-worker who who will listen to your speech and give some useful feedback? A friend who wants to hear about libraries? A dog?? (They make the best audience when you are just starting out – they listen closely and seem to give a lot of positive feedback!) Or just stand facing a mirror when you talk – it can help you to see how you are being perceived.
The moment arrives; your elevator is here! Take a moment to take a deep breath. Whoosh out any stress or nervousness you feel, then just dive into your quick speech.
Have an outcome in mind. Do you want the person to give an answer on the spot? Do you want them to say “Hmmmm…” and think about what you said? Is this the start of a longer discussion? Should they contact you later? Be ready to hand over your business card, to tap phones to share contact information, or to just shake hands and say “Thanks for listening!” depending on what you want to accomplish.
It makes things SO much easier for you to talk about your idea, and to persuade other people to follow along with you, if you have your elevator speech practiced and ready! And when you are talking about great things in your library, you will probably give this same speech a few dozen times. Having it in your pocket and ready to go means you always have something good to say when talking about the library.
Your library is awesome!! You know it, and so should everyone else!!
Get out there, and give your elevator speeches, knowing you are advocating for a great cause!!
For more information, check out these other resources:
- ALSC Elevator Content
- What’s Your Pitch? from Library Journal
- Got Your Elevator Speech Ready? from Cheryl Becker
- The Elevator Speech from Hack Library School
Proving our worth: the elevator pitch from International Librarians Network
- Elevator Speech from ALA’s Everyday Advocacy