Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do YOU Have an Elevator Speech?

For my homework this week I need to polish up on my elevator speech. An elevator speech is a summary or an introduction of yourself, stating who you are, what your business is all about, etc.

Why is it so important? Well, let's use my own situation as an example. I have a few stories I would like to get published, and in order to do so I need to have established some sort of a relationship with an editor. In order to meet an editor, I would have to do some social networking at conferences, gatherings, retreats, and other places where I would find those who work in the same field. Through this networking I will end up meeting someone, who knows someone else, and that someone else could be my ticket to gaining some sort of contact with the right people, or even the editor him/herself!

That's all fine and dandy, until you begin to talk to all these important people and realize you have nothing good to say, and you end up chatting about the weather. This kind of talk is not productive! You need a plan! Words of action!

And that is why YOU need an elevator speech!

(In case you've been's called an elevator speech because it must be quick, just in case you find yourself in an elevator next to the President, and you might only have until the next floor to say the most vital of information. The guideline is about a minute.)

Some good things to include in your elevator speech, as we have learned through trial and error in class:

  • This seems a bit obvious, but state your name, your business, and CLEARLY. Make them remember it!

  • State what you are as if you are already it. Give your words conviction! (Don't say things like "I will be a children's book illustrator," or "I hope to..." You don't need to say what other job you are working at right now if you are in the middle of a career change: "I'm a server at Restaurant Q, but I want to be...")

  • Show passion for what you do. This should happen around the time you do the next bullet, listed below:

  • Say what project(s) you are currently working on. This shows the listener that you are actively working in your field, even if it isn't necessarily within the professional world. It doesn't matter that you don't actually have a job in that field, just show that you are doing. You don't need to graduate first to be able to design or create!

  • Give a CALL TO ACTION! This is important! People have a natural tendency to want to help someone else. If they hear you are "looking for a position" or "if you know anyone who needs services like my own," then their minds begin to process the information and they might actually be able to help you. They might happen to be best friends with the person you are dying to work for!

  • Have marketing materials handy at all times. You never know when an opportunity to hand out a business card will arise.
So with all this talk and tips, what does an elevator speech sound like? Here's mine so far, though I haven't perfected it just yet:

"Hello, my name is Melanie Linden Chan and I am an illustrator and author of children's books. My goal is to create books that teach children how to live in harmony with nature and with each other. I have a few stories that I am working on at the moment, and I am currently looking for a publisher who is willing to take my ideas and make them real. In the meantime, I am studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, where I am learning as much as I can about the world of children's books. If you know anyone who is interested in having their book illustrated, kindly pass on my information."

Hmmm. Well, it's not too bad, but I'm sure it needs some work! But that is the general idea of how an elevator speech should sound anyway. So give it a try, and get yourself one! I'll let you know how my speech goes in class!

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