Build An Elevator Speech You Can Be Proud Of

“So what exactly does an arts consultant do?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that I probably wouldn’t have to be a consultant. That’s not a compliant mind you, but it is a reality for just about everyone in this field, administrator and artist alike. Consequently, it pays to have an elevator speech handy and the fine folks at The Harvard Business School have you covered…

Wikipedia defines an Elevator Speech (A.K.A. Elevator Pitch) as “a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.” Sounds simple, right? Well, sometimes they are very easy to craft but in cases where you have to communicate activities, goals, and values to someone that may have no frame of reference and see many of these items as subjective, it can become far less straightforward.

This is where the HBS Elevator Pitch Builder comes into play. It’s just about the most user friendly elevator speech tool I’ve come across and it is equally useful for elevator speech newbies and veterans alike.

The tool walks you through four steps related to each critical item of an effective elevator speech (who, what, why, and goal) and then analyzes your efforts and offers suggestions. A series of suggested words are offered up at each step in the process to help you past any mental blocks and you can skip between sections as desired.

Once you’re satisfied with the end result, you can email or print your pitch. How cool is that?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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