Put Some Progress in Your Elevator Speech

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If you want your elevator speech to be memorable, perhaps you should consider a little showmanship. But, be careful: go too far, and you’ll stop the show. Here’s how to put the right amount of progress into your story, and still keep it real.

Who doesn’t enjoy a great show. Whether it’s Skyfall, or Lincoln, or any one of the fantastic movies that are out right now.

But, loving a great show and having a little showmanship are two different things. Think about the shows that you love – television, movies, and even theater. What is it that is so compelling about the stories we love the most?

The movies, theater and television shows we love all have one thing in common: they all focus on change.

That’s right: change, in some form or fashion. Great stories are about a lot of things – but ultimately, a persuasive story is all about change.

Whether it’s scientific change gone horribly wrong (Yes, I like Revolution – how about you?) or a hero’s journey with an uncertain outcome (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Amazing Race), our best stories focus on change.

Daniel Craig in SkyfallWhen you deliver your message, if you want it to resonate, add a little bit of showmanship.

Nope, I’m not suggesting a little number from “Glee” or even 16 bars from “Wicked”. However, take the best aspects of show business if you want to make your story the best it can be.

What is the change that you propose? What’s unexpected about your idea, for challenging the status quo?

After all, every elevator speech is persuasive in some way. Your message is designed to create change! So, if you want your story to stick, start with the change you’d like to create. And, by the way: change is the centerpiece of all good drama. Why not make it a part of your story?

I do a lot of coaching with Fortune 500 companies – including Big 4 accounting firms, and high-tech companies – and I see a lot of people focusing the story on the past. Past history is great – but not nearly as interesting as what might happen in the future.

Don’t focus too much on your past accomplishments – current events are much more dramatic and interesting. Connect the past to current events, if you want to engage your audience.

Picture this: what changes for you and for your organization when the project gets funded, the building gets built, the customer gets on board or the investor says “YES”? Your 23 years in the business is impressive, and so is your company’s 75 year history but HEY! What does that mean to me, right now? Showtime is right here, right now – have you got a good story to tell?

Focus on the change that you’d like to create, and communicate that change in a way that’s compelling and engaging. That’s the best piece of theater, and it’s just what you need to make your message memorable.

A little bit of theater is a good thing – you don’t have to be melodramatic, made-up or gimmicky to make your point. Take the best aspects of showmanship and storytelling, and make your message matter.

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