Are You Elevator ready?

Oct 17th, 2011 | By | Category: communication skills, competing, confidence, networking, persuasion, self confidence, self-promotion, success

Although designed for use in the short interval when you have a captive audience in the elevator, an elevator pitch is also handy when you have just a few minutes to pass on information or make a favorable impression.

While for the longest time, I thought that elevator pitches were shameless acts of self-promotion, and they are, but if done properly they can be very effective.

Some of us have a natural gift of being able to deliver a clear concise impromptu description of their current projects, or pass along other information that leaves the listeners with a good impression. All too often when someone asks what are you working on? The response is usually “nothing important.” If you are not working on something that is not important, that is the same as saying you are unimportant.

A lot of us have hang-ups over elevator pitches. So many times I would get off the elevator, and everyone would start laughing and making fun of the person giving an elevator pitch. I have also witnessed competitive elevator pitches. One of my favorite examples is when I was on the elevator with very egotistical and competitive bureau chiefs. I am sure this was all to impress those of us riding along of their importance. After a brief silence when the elevator door closed, one chief said to the other “I was here until 10:00 PM last night meeting with the Chairman.” Without skipping a beat, the other chief responded,” I know he called me in when you left.” It was all everyone else on the elevator could do to keep from laughing. It was elevator gamesmanship at its best.

While this sort of sparring is common, it does have a desired effect. True or not it leaves the impression that upper management works late into the night. The other is that both were close advisors to the Chairman. So even though everyone thought it was funny, the message sunk in.

I was really impressed with the way the high achievers were always using their elevator time to their best advantage. At every opportunity they would find a way to let everyone know what they were working on, or who they were meeting with. It always sounded like they were working on the most important projects at the agency.

I found out later that the high achievers spend a lot of time and effort to develop their elevator pitches. One of engineers I worked with would spend some time every morning composing a short concise description of what he was working on. He was working on the same thing I was, but when he described his role it seemed so much more important.

Learning to have an elevator pitch at the ready is a good way to be prepared when opportunity knocks. I have seen people tongue tied when a high level manager asked them what they were working on. Or instead of using the opportunity to make a favorable impression, they down play their accomplishments. Either way they leave a bad impression with someone who is in a position to help you along your career path.

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