Government Connections - Spring 2012 - (Page 35)
What Do You Do?
The importance of a good elevator speech
By Carroll A. Reuben, CMP, CMM position and may not describe what you do, whereas your professional title does describe what you do and can stay with you throughout your career. So perhaps you can first respond to the question with: “I’m a government meeting professional and currently the senior conference manager for the XYZ Department”. Next tell them what you do: “I advise senior management on the implementation of the FTR, that’s Federal Travel Regulations, pertaining to conference participation.” Then comes the why: “Meeting planning requires an indepth knowledge of government requirements and regulations as it relates to budgets, locations, food and beverage and all the resources needed for a successful meeting.” In the 1993 film, Philadelphia, Denzel Washington’s character asks throughout the film, “Explain it to me like I’m a six-year old.” If you want to communicate effectively, pretend you’re talking to a child. If you’re worried you’ll come across as insulting, you won’t. You’ll come across as refreshing and engaging. At most, your introduction should take no more than 20 seconds, and rather than drone on, it’s time to ask a question to qualify your listener as a prospective resource, customer, employer or just an interested bystander. Remember, this is a conversation, not a presentation, and people will remember you if they interact with you. Perhaps you can engage them by saying: “Here’s a quiz for you. Do you know which sides of a stage the stars and stripes and the state flag should be placed?” If they don’t know, you can share your knowledge with them, and if they do know, you can congratulate them! Then go on to share some of your accomplishments. Remember, you are going for short sound bites with a ‘wow’ factor, not your entire resume. Leave them hanging. The best responses are those that pique the listener’s interest and lead to more questions. Have a closing line; don’t just let your new friend wander off. Always have a business card in your pocket or purse. Ask for their business card if you really think this person might be a future resource. Your elevator speech is as important as your business card and should be as readily available. Practice it, not as though you were reading from a script or you have memorized your lines, but as if you are engaged in a conversation. Tape it (most smartphones have a voice memo capability) and listen to yourself. Practice it a lot! Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “I never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.” Now it’s your turn. What do you do? G
Carroll Reuben will be a faculty member at the 2012 National Education Conference, teaching meeting planning foundations and managing budgets through Excel.
YOU ANSWER WITH your job title and a long list of your job responsibilities peppered with “like” and “you know.” If you are paying attention, you might notice that your listener’s attention is fading as you speak. It is well documented that you have a captive audience for 7 – 20 seconds; after that the mind wanders. Why is it that we have such trouble articulating our profession? Perhaps it’s because we in are a silent service profession with no celebrities or fan clubs with whom we can be easily identified. Let’s face it, until Jennifer Lopez starred in the movie “The Wedding Planner,” even that profession was relatively unknown. To my knowledge, the sequel “The Government Meeting Planner” is not high on Hollywood’s list of upcoming feature films. So let’s change the perception that we travel around looking at hotels, ordering the coffee and perhaps a projector. Let’s make this two-minute elevator speech a teachable moment. It is an opportunity not only to promote yourself, but to help your listener understand what meeting planners really do and just how valuable we are. Start with who you are. Tell people your profession, not your job title. Job titles are bestowed upon us when we accept the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Spring 2012
Travel Tips & Trends
Good to Know
Dieting on a Per Diem
Navigating the NEC Expo
Getting to Know You
Building Strong Relationships
What Do You Do?
The Meeting Minute
Government Connections - Spring 2012