Early in my career I became infatuated with the concept of the “elevator speech” or the 45ish second personal pitch designed to dazzle your company’s CEO if you ever happen to get on an elevator with him or her. (Embarrassing confession: I thought the use of the word “elevator” referred to something that makes you look like you’re going straight to the top… but I wasn’t far off.) In my first few positions, this was an incredibly useful exercise as the upper management for the giant I worked for were very busy people and therefore pretty inaccessible.
Lucky for me, I work in a much smaller office now where I literally work next to my boss and the CEO of MemberClicks regularly walks by and teases me about watching silly videos on YouTube. Consequently, I spend less time worrying about elevators. My CEO knows how awesome I am without my having to blurt out a rehearsed pitch (if I do say so myself.)
I ran across an article about the elevator speech, and I realized that my time with the elevator speech is not dead by a long shot just because I have regular contact with Mark (Sedgley, CEO of MemberClicks.) There will always be potential to get in an elevator with someone to whom I need to make a “pitch.” So I need to keep one ready. Actually, several is a better idea.
As a Small Staff Association Leader, you no doubt need them too. So here’s a few handy templates for you to get started thinking about your association’s elevator speeches. You just never know. Customize your speeches for yourself by filling in the items in parenthesis.
Thank you so much for your help and participation with (Specific event or occurrange.) I truly appreciate your time! If you have any ideas for future (events, meetings, workshops) I would love to hear them whenever it’s convenient for you. Also if you have any ideas how to expand membership or any friends you’d like to bring around, I’m all ears!
It’s so good to see you! We’ve missed seeing you around at (association’s) events! I’m always accessible to talk about any ideas you may have for the association, plus I have several awesome opportunities where we could really use your help if you find you would like to help out. Here’s my contact information. Reach out any time!
Potential Donors or Sponsors:
It’s great to meet you! I am (name) with (association.) We are a (quick description) with (number of members.) I would love to speak with you if you get some time about how (potential donor or company) and (association) could work together and make some terrific things happen. May I contact you sometime to continue this conversation? Here’s my card.
Hi there! I am (name) with (association.) We are a (quick description) with (number of members.) We are getting together (time, date, location of next event) and would love to see you if you can make it. If not, that’s ok, we’re always holding meetings and events and would love it if you could attend. It could really be great for our association and your (career/hobby/special interest) to have you involved. Here’s my information! Get in touch any time.
These are just a few examples of elevator speeches you might have to come up with. Before you get going, though, here are a few dos and don’ts from my personal experience.
Be prepared for questions, just in case.
Have cards and contact information handy, preferably at all times. If you happen to meet at the gym you might have to improvise.
Keep it conversational.
Smile and make eye contact (duh, I know, but you’d be surprised how easy that is to forget for such a quick pitch.)
Recite your association’s goals or exact mission.
Lecture or preach.
Lead with a request. Keep it friendly.
These little speeches should be casual and friendly. The goal, after all, is to continue the conversation, so don’t make them too rehearsed. But it’s a good exercise to think about them. You never know when your next donor, leader, or board member is going to get on the elevator with you!