Your Elevator Story

Lets say you’re riding an elevator and someone says, “Tell me about yourself, what do you do?” What would you say?

Lets also assume you must explain what you or your company does, the value of its product or service, and do it in 15 to 20 seconds, the time of an average elevator ride.

Try this sometime and I think you’ll find that it’s not that easy unless you’re prepared for it, especially as some of us get so excited about what we’re involved in that we talk far too long.

The best way to do this is to tell a story but keep it short. Remember this quote from Blaise Pascal?

I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

Stories inspire and create a human connection between people. Every business has a story to tell, and how you tell it will determine whether you create a connection or fall flat.

For instance, can you tell a story about what sparked your idea for your business or how you got into your profession? What unexpected obstacles you have to overcome? How did you dealt with competition? When you knew that you were in the right business or on the right track?

Every good story has these three elements: challenge, struggle, and resolution. A good story doesn’t just relate facts; it puts the emotion into the facts. A compelling story creates suspense by unexpected challenge or setback and how it resolved to end up with a success.

If you want to attract their attention, surprise them with an unexpected question or challenge of some kind. No surprise = boring.

Here’s an example.

My wife and I have been on many rides in Northern California on my Harley Davidson motorcycle, joined by my daughter and her husband on their Harley. In relating our experiences to others about our rides, I discovered one important thing. If it was a perfect ride with perfect weather with no particular challenges or unforeseen obstacles, the story was boring! No one was interested.

But if I tell you about the time we were on motorcycles riding back to Los Angles from two hours north of San Francisco, early in the morning on a narrow section of Highway 1, on a cold, misty, rainy day with the fog so thick it obscured the edge of the road and the 50 foot drop to the ocean just beyond it; then add to the mix a pickup truck driver following so close to our rear fender you could practically touch him, all the time honking his horn angrily for us to get over and let him pass, then you’ll get someone’s attention and have the elements of a good story which are, challenge, struggle, and resolution.

Now this example might take longer than 20 seconds to tell. But I can almost guarantee that it will get the attention of everyone in the elevator.

And if you can distill your business story to the essential facts and emotional elements and tell it in less than 15 or 20 seconds, you’ll be on your way to crafting an effective “elevator story.”

How do you do this?

The first thing to do is write it out, and then cut it by 50%. Then try to cut it in half again, while retaining all the important facts and details.

Next practice your “elevator pitch” out loud many times.

Do it with someone who knows nothing about your business, then find out how much they retained of your speech.

Do they know what your company does? Did the find out why your product or service has value? Do they know where they can get it?

Continue rehearsing this elevator pitch until it is as natural as rain, no harder than saying your name. Practice it even more until you can do it in your sleep and it will never sound canned or prepared. Once you master it, you can effortlessly change it to any length as circumstances require.

At this point you’ll come across as confident, passionate and sincere – and you will have accomplished two things:

  1. You will get their attention.
  2. Give them something to remember.

And above all, keep in mind that excellence comes from mastery of the fundamentals, not from the accumulation of techniques.

daniel w. jacobs
© 2013- 2030, all rights reserved


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: