Elevator Speeches Only Take You Down

One of the fundamental problems in communicating change is quite simply that most professionals don’t know how to hold an engaging conversation, much less teach their supporters how to do the same.  The traditional approach is to take a great idea, turn it into a slogan, an elevator speech and a campaign.  This amounts to one-way communication and sabotages engagement. There may be discussions, town-halls and coffee chats, but unless you’re spending more time listening than you are talking, you’re creating three results that are taking you backwards instead of forwards.

First, you are generating bad press for your change. Every person who doesn’t see the world the same way you do (i.e., almost everyone), is thinking quietly while they are listening to you drone on, ‘This person has no idea what my life is like.’  When they walk away from the conversation they have pegged you and your program. Not what you want.

Second, by pre-cooking your idea you are stepping free of reality, the constantly changing, swirling, messy, and upsetting chaos that makes up day-to-day life. Your change idea becomes an ideal, isolated from the real world, devoid of traction and growth.

Third, you are ensuring you or your office, the keepers of the message, are the primary source of change. This limits your impact and seals your doom. What you want instead is for your change and its message to spread through a network of advocates.

Teach yourself how to effectively engage people. Learn the art of conversation.  You can be gracious, effective, sensitive, provocative, and stimulating while all the time magnetizing people to your initiative, attracting them to become part of your program. For example, there are conversations you can initiate that generate the future. For a list of questions to ask, see 8 Conversations that Create the Future.

Excellent conversation skills are a must. Learn how to write, speak, and think on your feet. Practice and role play. It is your job to express your value – build that skill. Start a blog, write a book.  Create opportunities to speak extemporaneously about your work. Deliver presentations, too. Be ready to discuss your work and the value you provide whenever it comes up.  

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2 Responses to “Elevator Speeches Only Take You Down”

  1. […] Elevator Speeches Only Take You Down […]

  2. <Learn how to write on your feet.

    Could you give an example.

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