As we begin the new year, here is some useful information about crafting an elevator speech that can help you advocate for your archives and the importance of the work you do.*
“An elevator speech is a short, to the point statement explaining your job and its importance to your organization and community. Reserve these talking points for those moments when you only have minutes or seconds with a new contact.
To get started, write down all of the most essential functions of your job or department. List out who your target audiences are. Are they potential donors? Students? The Board of Directors? You may have all of these groups and more, and each one might need a slightly different approach.
Since most of us work for non-profit organizations (or internal service arms of for-profit organizations), it can be hard to discuss how our organizations make a “profit.” Think about the specific benefits patrons have gotten from you. It’s fine to use really specific examples, and tailor them for run-ins with different target audiences. It’s a good idea to write out these examples as a story and then boil down the most important points.
Once you have your story, try to come up with a clear, but powerful answer to the question “What do I do?”. It can be as simple as “I help people discover their family history,” or as dramatic as “I guard Georgia’s legacies!” Remember, your pitch should encourage people to ask more questions. Make them curious and be prepared to answer their questions or respond to their comments.
Keep your speech short and to the point. It should be no more than 1-2 minutes, and not use any jargon or uncommon words. Practice your speech with family or friends to see if people outside of the profession understand you. Record yourself to cut down on time.
And be sure to introduce yourself! You don’t have to include your job title if it makes your speech clunky, but carry business cards to share your title and contact information.”
*Text excerpted from Society of Georgia Archivists – Professional advocacy
Chair, RAAC Advocacy Subcommittee