with Professor Pocock

6th in a series of 8 Basic Tools for Effective Communication . . . Topic: Elevator Speeches

Perfect pitch

Wander over to the music classrooms in your building and you’ll likely to find a tuning fork.  This device sets the standard for tuning all the other musical instruments.

Do you have such a tool for helping you and your colleagues share your district’s strengths with key audiences?  Such tools are called elevator speeches.  These concise presentations (delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator) must be focused in their message and targeted in their connection with the audience.

Begin by identifying your key audiences, one for each of the following groups:
•    Teachers.  The messages will likely be slightly different for teachers new to your district and those who are returning.
•    Parents.  Again, tailor the message to returning parents and those for whom this is a new experience.
•    Students.  This is an often overlooked audience.  But know that students will model what you say to them about the district and these kids can be your absolute best ambassadors.
•    Community leaders.  These include people in business, healthcare, government and non-profit organizations.  Schools are an essential part of a healthy community and you want to craft a message that promotes strengths of interest to each of them.

Brainstorm until you get it right

Once you’ve identified your key audiences, invest time to brainstorm what’s important to each of them. This becomes the foundation for your messages which need to be targeted to each audience.  You shouldn’t recreate the wheel each time.  Eighty percent of your content likely will be shared among all the speeches.  But focusing on the 20 percent that’s different will exponentially improve the effectiveness of your elevator speech.  Having a well-written boiler plate (my first in this series) will help immensely with this task.

The start of the school year is a great time to tune up your elevator speeches and prepare to make perfect pitches throughout the year.

photos by Shaylor, hodgers

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