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
Script – what to say to succeed
Space – appropriate 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.
Serendipity – Tongue willing, Knees not buckling. A strong wit to carpe diem.
Spoils – your 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.