Art of making impactful Elevator Speech – Wise minister learns the hard way

For long we struggled at it. Making the most profitable elevator speech. We knew its necessity and importance. We read about the spectacular successes. We bowed our heads in reverence. To the lucky few who made it. We invested in self-help tomes. Reserved premium seats in Gurus’ lectures.

But never got within whiffing distance. Of the sweet smell of success.

We know the science behind it. Any Elevator moment has 6 components. In the following manner, to speak:

Sender – script – space – sucker – serendipity – spoils

Sender the one fighting for spoils

Scriptwhat to say to succeed

Spaceappropriate place to amplify impact (neither restroom, nor any crowded place)

Sucker impressionable and naïve head honcho. He always makes the first move – A smile, a salutation, a nod.

SerendipityTongue willing, Knees not buckling. A strong wit to carpe diem.

Spoilsyour pie in the sky

One is you, six is given. Two – you had in back-pocket; nestling along with your resignation letter. Three – you buttered secretary for routine. Four – is a slippery moving target. Five – your nemesis, your Achilles’ heel. Or so you rationalized your failures.

But we forget speech isn’t science. It’s a sublime form of art. And that’s what I discovered recently. Here it is, for your benefit.


Long time ago, a small yet prosperous kingdom was ruled by a large hearted king. He was loved very much by his harem and coterie and by the hardworking subjects, usually on the king’s birthday (aka Annual Ostentatious Party (AOP)), when the bars and eateries were thrown open through the day.

The king was insulated from the day-to-day affairs, by the harem and coterie (H&C), whose writ ran over the court’s proceedings. The king had a wise minister who brought some sanity and justness to the proceedings. This one was a misfit, who hallucinated about a welfare state, where all the subjects were justly ruled. And the riches, a product of the sweat and toil of the subjects, distributed equitably amongst them. He was forever creating vision statements and great strategies (or so he thought) to execute them.

This didn’t go well with the H&C who continually pitched in the need to get rid of a righteous and conscientious pest. King, though irritated endless, indulged the minister. For though myopic, he wasn’t a novice in the state-craft which required a benign and grey-front to ensure rebellious and fiery voices subside.

Still perseverance wouldn’t have been given such a high purchase if it didn’t have its merits.

One day the king had to decide between one of the two following proposals:

  • AOP budgets put forward by the H&C and
  • Tax-holiday for the subjects who faced a severe drought that year, proposed by his minister

The arguments were compelling from both sides:

H&C: Hunting. We can go far away and indulge, with none getting any wiser. We don’t have to put up with the entire population clamoring for crumbs

Minister: There may be riots and lynching if we try squeezing pennies from the already impoverished lot

H&C: If we don’t celebrate in downtime, we will get into a depression. Stimulate the economy by spending more

Minister: Love, affection, prayers, blah blah blah blah.

The king was wavering. Visions of rebellion and riots blurred the bacchanalian revelries. He needed a moment and a divine inspiration. He looked outside the palace window for and saw a travel-weary tradesman resting under a tree. This could be it. He will ask both the minister and the C to go out and find out about the tradesman and report back. This will give him the much needed respite to think.

The minister came back gasping. “The neighboring kingdom is going to attack us soon” he cried out!

What?” said the king in disbelief. He thought himself to be a big-picture man but this is beyond his wildest imagination to grasp

The tradesman is from a faraway land. He sold all his wares in the neighboring kingdom made a huge profit and returning to his land. The people in that kingdom are all happy with the king and are with him in his plans to expand his boundaries. While walking through our kingdom he found people miserable and talking about the prosperity and the peaceful environment of the kingdom next door. They were contemplating life under that king…..” He could have gone further, logically laying out a compelling reason-why the invasion is imminent and therefore what immediate measures the king could take.

But he was cut-short in the middle of his statement by the booming voice of the coterie who swaggered in with two bags of gold-coins.

“Here, are the proceeds of the sales. Will come in handy, while hiring jugglers and clowns. As for the trader, he is no longer alive to protest” (Snigger)

The next day, the hunting party comprising of the H&C and a decisive and happy king left the palace.


One doesn’t know what fate had in store for the minister. Whether he joined the neighboring king, or was fed to crocodiles by the present master or he left the materialistic world and moved onto become a hermit; I can’t say.

One thing is for sure. In his eagerness to present a big-picture and make an elevator speech that will impact the people at large; he forgot a simple fact.

Logic doesn’t work when you have 30 seconds to make the other person decide. Your speech/arguments should be one of immediate benefits delivered in a hard hitting manner. Say how and how much it will have to add to the coffers. Paint a picture of what you can do with it.

It’s an art to accomplish such a job. Only a few possess it.

I know my limitations and am content climbing steps. And I have enough logic to convince myself that it helps me fight cholesterol and keep fit.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. C.J. Beck says:

    This elevator didn’t reach the top floor.

  2. adrienne williams says:

    I’ve been reading this one over and over for the last few days and I’m lost. I love the stories about the kings, minions, all of the characters — but I just couldn’t get the story….no American opinion this time…. :o)

  3. M P Shyni says:

    Arun to b vry Honest… I was Blank @ d End of this Article… May b coz ‘m still Starry Eyed…!!!!!! 🙂

  4. Pavan says:

    If the King did put up with the minister for quite a while, it is very unlikely that he would throw him to the crocs.But who knows the ways of the world ?
    Many of u’r articles hinge on mystery with many a opening for interpretation, but this story needed a third reading from me & I am still groping in the dark….
    Looking for more articles from you, Arun.


  5. Hannibal says:

    Brilliant! But are you sure they get it?
    😉 Cheers.

  6. jayraj says:

    Hi Arun,
    Well Thought, Well Executed, is what i am gonna say.
    Yeah, it does make a lot of difference in all walks of life to have that “niche” ability (for lack of a better term, I am kinda verbally challenged, if you know what i mean !!!)to make a profitable impact on someone in a very short time. The six factors that you mentioned, and especially the sentence “speech isn’t science. It’s a sublime form of art” goes a long long way. I enjoyed reading it would be an understatement.
    Simply too good. Look forward for more to come.


  7. Vidushi Gupta says:

    Hi Arun,

    Well as always….your efforts are commendable..!!

    But this time i was somehow not connected with your writing..
    I read it once…twice..thrice…but i failed..:(

    Simply waiting for your next blogpost now…and i truly believe…it will be amazing….as always…:)

    All the Best…Congratulations for the increasing no. of visitors of this webpage…


    1. ivak99 says:

      Thanks for the brickbats. This post, unlike my other previous ones had a hung verdict.

      Some identified with it (who are experienced and are in the know) and some didn’t (still starry eyed and mint-fresh from the B-schools).

      Presents me with a dilemma:
      * to continue talking about aspects that are universal
      * brave the brickbats and try educating along side entertainment

      Guess, will play it safe for a while – my thickskin is still in its formative stages. 🙂

  8. Good one Arun.
    Thankfully, In school days effective communication was one aspect taught out by great selfless teachers. I recollect one example in Tamil Kambar Ramayan; “Kandaen Seethaiyai”( Saw Sita”) as first words by Hanuman to Ram when he comes back from Lanka. We didn’t give a name to that as elevator speech, but that had impact. Take that cue and use in life.

    The more I see, we do many good things, but need a western wrapper to make it accept… Sad state…!.

    Keep it coming.

  9. Shirin Ara says:

    Hey Arun,

    A thought provoking article!!

    “Speech isnt science, its a sublime form of Art”…Very true…And this art can work wonders!!

    N its equally true that nowadays, painting a quick picture attracts more attention than elevator speeches :-)I pity the poor minister..good intentions, but lost in the end…

    Indeed a good one… Keep Writing!


    Shirin Ara

  10. Meenal says:

    Very well put. I recently attended a workshop where the facilitator made a similar point – Don’t give explanations, paint a picture. That will make an immediate and a longer lasting effect.

  11. Good one. Where do you get the allegories from?

  12. anita noronha says:

    Well said Arun. You’ve pointed out a very vital fact of life. Its always about the money. “Show me the money”, was a line made famous in a popular English movie. Even ideologies need money unfortunately. And Wisdom looses out to Power. Wait for the opportunity by staying fit! Cheers to many of us joining you in climbing the stairs.

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