Are elevator speeches a waste of time?
Is it just me, or does every communications workshop these days feature a session on the “elevator speech?”
If I had a dime for each of those exercises I’ve endured, I’d have about a buck, which at least would be something. Because I’ve never, ever had an opportunity to employ one of those scripted, designed-by-committee monologues.
First, if language is important, why’s it called an elevator speech? Hardly anyone talks in elevators, much less gives speeches.
But more to the point, do people who’ve been in the community development business a long time really require professional advice to determine how they describe what they do? Don’t we know by now? And if we don’t, what’s that say about us?
Vapid, hollow and useless
Sure, community development’s a complicated, multifaceted endeavor that eludes the sort of simple description an elevator ride, even in a tall building, would accommodate. And maybe that’s why those 30-second recitations we hammer out with the PR people are so vapid, hollow and useless.
In trying to do too much, the speeches end up doing nothing at all. And we know it!
A colleague in another city mentioned recently that, if you were to ask 10 people in his office how they (as a business) approached their work, you’d get 10 different answers.
Not necessarily a bad thing, but, for occasions when a unified voice is required, a general operating philosophy cribbed from the mission statement — nearly as troublesome as the elevator speech, and don’t even think about the ethics policy — could be just the ticket.
Meanwhile, let’s get out of the communications elevator and back on the street where all the good stories are — and figure out how to tell them.
If we can’t do that, maybe we don’t know what we’re doing.
Posted in Communicating, Thinking Out Loud