I’ll admit to struggling with an elevator speech showcasing The Brainzooming Group and what we do. Part of it is my particular resistance toward trite labels and glib descriptions about businesses that “sound” great, but are devoid of any real meaning.

The other part is the challenge of being too close to what we do – especially the process. It’s difficult to create the mental distance necessary to devise a simple description of what we do without glossing over (what I think are) integral nuances of how we help clients think and implement new ideas more effectively.

The Church Lady Elevator Speech

RosaryAgainst that backdrop, a very nice older woman at the church I go to for Saturday morning mass struck up a conversation recently. She wanted my contact information to add me to a prayer group list, so I handed her a business card.

She took a long look at the business card, and said, “Brianzooming? What does Brainzooming do?” Before I could answer, she added, while laughing, “If you do brain enlargements that would be great. I need a brain enlargement.”

I quickly replied, “Well, we sort of do ‘brain enlargements.’ We make people smarter. We help companies come up with new ideas and solve problems better . . . and we do it faster, and it’s fun!”

That wasn’t perfect, but it’s as good a general description as I’ve come up with on the spur of the moment so far.

A Creative Thinking Exercise You Can Use

If you too struggle with creating an elevator speech for your brand, put yourself in the situation in which I was and imagine this creative thinking exercise: You are in the back of church, and a “church lady” asks what your brand does. In a very quiet setting, with no time to prepare, what would you say that is:

  • Very brief, so you don’t disturb anyone with your conversation
  • Simply stated, so the church lady will most likely “get” it, AND
  • Builds on the idea the church lady already has about what you do

What would be the church lady speech describing your brand? Is it the same as your elevator speech? Or does incorporating expectations for both simplicity and plain speaking open up new possibilities for communicating what your brand does?

– Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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5 Responses to “Creative Thinking Exercise – The Church Lady Elevator Speech”

  1. Sean Buvala says:

    Oh, Mike, it appears we’re getting closer and closer to seeing you understand that elevator speeches are dead and storytelling (adaptive and episodic) is a much more useful tool. Your comment “build on the idea that the church lady already has” is a core tool of storytelling for business or otherwise: Elevator speeches are created and spoken in a vacuum. Storytelling is cocreated in the moment and fits the audience you are with in that moment. There is no singular elevator speech for any org. Sometimes you need “integral nuances” and sometimes you need to joke about how funny your company names sounds. As always, I always enjoy your postings. Thanks.

    • Mike Brown says:

      I don’t think the idea of a brief description is off the mark, Sean. People DO have short attention spans, so the concept of brevity for an elevator speech is a helpful one. Coupled with your idea of multiple structures it can take starts to make the whole idea make much more sense.

      • Sean Buvala says:

        Indeed. Not sure if I suggested a long narrative was required when meeting a church lady 🙂 . A solid story is easily retold in 15 minutes or 1 minute-ish. Adaptive and episodic are the cores of biz storytelling. I tell the story to fit the audience and time allotted.

        The short attention spans are okay even if that’s with the church lady or a new contact over the lunch-buffet bread basket. One of the issues facing biz storytelling is that it’s taught so poorly now that most folks think all storytelling must be a long production. Nah.


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