Home > Clients, Digital, Inspiration, Public Relations, Work > How to Create an Elevator Story

How to Create an Elevator Story

February 9, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

image via subtraction.com

Ever been asked by your day-to-day client contact to distill the essence of a program concept you were trying to get approved, so they could in turn sell it up the line to their senior management?  Chances are, you’ve been hit with the notorious “elevator speech” challenge.  As in, “Hey agency, if I can’t sell this idea in the course of a 60 second elevator ride with my boss, than we won’t be able to secure those incremental funds you asked for…” 

I recently found new inspiration for nailing elevator speeches at sociablemedia, the great site created by Cliff Atkinson, creator of the “Beyond Bullet Points” methodology.  

Required reading for Powerpoint jockeys

Required reading for Powerpoint jockeys

Atkinson’s method centers on story-driven presentation creation, and if you visit his site you’ll find lots of downloadable goodies,  including a template for setting the stage for the story that will fuel your presentation.  

Which inspired me to think about the elevator speech differently.  The next time you’ve got to come up with one,  try this approach.  It starts with the basic elements of any great story — protagonist, conflict and resolution.  

Step #1:  Put your client’s brand in the role of story protagonist.

Step #2:  What conflict can this protagonist (brand) help resolve? Conflict arises from tension between two opposing forces, or from a fundamental imbalance. What imbalance does your protagonist have the credibility to address (e.g.,  the tension between an unmet consumer need and a gap in the marketplace)?

Step #3:  What exactly is the protagonist (brand) doing to bring about resolution?

If you can answer those three questions, you might just have the solid outline of a good elevator speech. 

The epitome of career girl chic the year I graduated from college ("After" Tess, that is.)

Tess (the "after" version) was the epitome of career girl chic the year I graduated from college. Along with J.C. Wiatt from "Baby Boom."

Oh, and for great moments in cinematic elevator speech history, fast-forward to 5:52 in this clip to see  Melanie Griffith working her magic on Phillip Bosco in Working Girl .

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  1. YogaLP
    February 13, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I love this – and am stealing all thinking for today’s project… By the way – little known fact – JC Wiatt is the reason I chose to go by initials when hitting the work force… Heh.

  2. ssmirnov
    February 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

    JC was WILDLY influential in my formative years! I actually referenced her in my college graduation speech, something about “preparing to climb the corporate ladder, donning our sneakers and suits with briefcases in hand a la JC Wiatt in Baby Boom..” Although now that I think about it, did JC wear sneakers walking to work with her suits and floppy 80s power ties?

  1. February 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

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