Your data modeling elevator speech

There is that awkward time when the elevator doors close and you are alone with a stranger. Even more awkward is when the door closes and we turn to see a manager, business partner or team member standing next to us. The opportunity is to turn our 60 second ride into an opportunity for both of us.

Do you have an elevator speech? A few weeks back I attended Enterprise Data World. On more than one occasion speakers talked about the importance of having an elevator speech. My impression from past exposure has been that they are sales pitches where the speaker sells an idea or product.

The message that the conference speakers were delivering about the value of an elevator speech gave me a new perspective. Rather than selling something, they spoke about focusing the small slice of time talking about how you can help the person solve a problem they is facing.

Why is this important to data professionals? We are often placed in situations where we must speak about and defend the work we do. The initial gut reaction is to go into sales mode and sell, sell, sell our value. What we should be doing is focus on the individual and how we can assist them

Elevator speeches need not occur in a closed elevator. They occur in a cafeteria line, during a walk down the hall, in a team meeting, or in the parking lot. They offer a relatively easy way to build a closer relationship with others.

What can you do in 60 seconds? You can actually do more than you think. Here are some hints and suggestions to get your mind going.

  1. Keep it short, sweet and interesting. Take a cue from TV commercials. They have a minute to grab your interest and be memorable. People form and opinion of a person and a conversation within the first 15 seconds. Make sure you open with something that speaks to the person.
  2. Remember that is all about them and not you. Use body language to show concern and engagement. Be enthusiastic looking at them as you speak with a smile on your face.
  3. Be mindful of time. Use the art of storytelling and section your speech. Start off with an interesting story, talk about the value you learned from it and talk about the value it will bring to the person.
  4. Know your story. Before you can engage a person in a conversation on the value you bring to the table, you must understand that value yourself. Distill what you do and the value you offer into 5-6 bullet points. File them in the back of your mind. Simplicity makes it easier to build a cohesive speech with little notice.
  5. Know your audience. You may find yourself speaking to people at unexpected times. You know the issues your company is facing and the personalities you encounter every day. Identify 5-6 common scenarios and the speech you want to deliver. As you can see, a little planning goes a long way in making the elevator speech a success.
  6. Be memorable. People remember others who show concern for them and their problems. Your body language, delivery and personality pave the way for an open mind and open ears. Above all, end the conversation on a positive thought. Ideally, it would be an offer to further the talk in the future and lend a helping hand.

Throughout my career I have found that communication is the root of many business conflicts. We spend our career honing our technical skills. We learn how to navbigate the political landscape of our jobs. What we tend to ignore is becoming better communicators. It is something that most people are uncomfortable doing.

The elevator speech is an interesting technique that can make us better communicators. Time is precious today. Meetings are fast paced with many participants. Learn how to effectively use a minute to get your point across. Make that minute memorable and valuable. Take the concept of the elevator speech out of the elevator and into your cubicle and workplace. You can be a better speaker 60 seconds at a time.

Tom Bilcze

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