Monday, August 10, 2009

Drop your assumptions at the door

North American Elevator Buttons made by Dover/...Image via Wikipedia

Everyone knows what an "elevator pitch" is, right? Wrong. Over the weekend I attended Laid Off Camp Phoenix. Side note: a great event. You should put one on in your city if you're looking for work. Some fabulous ideas and connections were made!

During the camp, a speaker suggested everyone prepare their "elevator pitch". From my vantage point in the middle of the crowd, it seemed to me that more than 50% of the crowd of 100 looked puzzled by this remark. Not that they were having trouble understanding the need for a personal elevator pitch, mind you. No, this was the look of the truly bewildered. As if it was the first time those two words appeared in succession in a sentence. Speaking with a few attendees later on, my suspicions were confirmed.

So watch your turns of phrase. Turns of phrases? Doesn't mater. What does matter is that common catch-phrases might not be as common as you think. But rather than avoid theses verbal shortcuts, make sure your audience knows what you are saying by bringing them into the fold.

Rather than saying make sure you've got your elevator pitch ready, try:

Create a minute and a half script that clearly and accurately describes what is you do and why it's important That's called an "elevator pitch", and you need to always have it at the ready.

See? That explanation didn't take that much time. And now you know that everyone is clear on what you meant. Some may even have a new favorite phrase to pass along to their friends. And it didn't use language that talks down to those who are already in the know. If anything, It reinforces that you know what you are talking about, and shows that you are encouraging others to join the "in crowd".

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  1. :) I'm assuming you're talking about me... You're quite right regardless of who said it and what specific word was used. Same with acronyms and industry buzz words.

    On a personal non-upset kind of voice... and probably a debate for another time/place/podcast... I've never done a public speaking engagement, I was as nervous as I can ever remember and honestly I'm interested to see the video because I can't remember much of what happened; kind of like a black out sorta thing. Anxiety does that. Take that huge lack of speaking experience and the fact that I really had no clue what kind of demographic to expect and rookie mistakes are bound to happen. I mean the crowd went from guys like you who know what I'm talking about and more to the attendee who asked what hosting was... I'm not sure it gets any more diverse than that haha. I felt more comfortable with the Q&A session and think I answered all questions the best anybody could. At least I didn't pass out... breaking out in hives was the best of the worst that could have happened... Now I laugh at it but man was I freaking out going into that. Okay enough rambling... I agree with your post... done... bye :)

  2. How classic. I write a post about not making assumptions, and Chuck makes an assumption out of the gate. Love it!

    Sorry, Chuck. While there were a few things in your talk that I disagreed with, this post isn't about you. That was your first time speaking to a crowd, as you said. And I'm going to harp on the turns of phrases that you used? Nope. You've got plenty of other skills to learn before we go down that path! :)


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