The Elevator Speech Updated | Small Message, Big Impact

Terri L. Sjodin is a speech geek. Her experience on her speech and debate teams in high school and college laid the groundwork for her 2011 book, “Small Message, Big Impact: How to put the power of the elevator speech effect to work for you.”

Persuasive and instructional, Ms. Sjodin nails it.

(Disclaimer #1: I was given an advance copy to review. Disclaimer # 2: I got into reviewing business books quite accidentally—I entered my name in a call out on Twitter to review a then forthcoming book by Tony Hsieh who leads one of my favorite online retail businesses; Zappos. It was a great experience. I have since been offered the opportunity to review other critical new business books, and have accepted the challenge for three reasons: (1) I believe that my reviews can be of some help to my readers in sorting through the pile of biz books being published daily (2) I believe lawyers who want to connect with their clients need to read books written by CEO’s, and others who are actually in business, and (3) reviewing books has forced me to read them! I am intrigued by the vast knowledge being transferred, for the small cost of a book, and now consume them voraciously—I used to buy business books, flip through them, retrieve a nugget and then put them on the shelf for another day. Thus, you will find a category on the VMO devoted to business book reviews.)

My Review: Small Message, Big Impact.

Closed office, open office: What’s the difference?

“Quite frankly, I have never entered an office that had a bright flashing neon sign proclaiming: Open to vendors and solicitors. Come on in!”

No matter if you’re in direct sales or developing new business for your law practice via relationships, it takes time and creativity to get through the door, says Sjodin. Enter, the advanced Elevator Speech.

What is the Elevator Speech?

“It is the short conversational message you share with the dream client in the middle of a busy airport—or the elevator.” Ms. Sjodin proposes that the compelling and carefully crafted elevator speech has the power to bridge the gap between nice ideas in theory and concrete results. Handled properly, the elevator speech can evolve from a simple thirty-second commercial to a true competitive benchmark.

Sound interesting? Sure, I think so.  But, how do we do that?

Most seasoned rainmakers know their 30-second brand statement or value proposition; they’ve done it a million times in the cocktail circuit (and created an awesome Twitter bio in just 160 characters from it). Still, Ms. Sjodin proposes that today’s elevator speech has several characteristics that should not be overlooked:

  • It can be formal or informal.
  • The actual length is approximately two to three minutes depending on circumstances.
  • It is a clear, brief message with intention.
  • It has a sole function, which is to intrigue a listener and obtain his or her interest, therefore winning the speaker the chance to offer a longer, more detailed presentation at a later time.
  • It has structure.
  • It has a close.
  • It is a tool that helps you earn the right to be heard.
  • It can, most important of all, initiate a sequence of events resulting in dramatic and amazing opportunities, both large and small, far into the future.

What’s in the book?

Lush with plenty of real life stories and examples, “Small Message, Big Impact” is a convincing read. It takes readers to the place where they can explore their own message, formulate it, structure it appropriately, and deploy it in practice. There are tips on refining and engaging: This is NOT your father’s elevator speech.

Sjodin explains the nuances of transition, body language, tone, and more. She has advice on dressing the part, fear, and earning the right to be heard. The best part about the book is that you never think you’re getting advice from someone who has not been in the trenches. She’s been there. And it is that perspective that I think makes this book most valuable—do as I say and as I do!

The book is not only helpful for those serendipitous moments when you meet up with a prospect in the airport, fundraising event or …the elevator.  It teaches you how to manage multiple talking points and to communicate more complex ideas as well: There is counsel and guidance for anyone who presents to the public; speeches, presentations and other performances. And, it is padded with practical exercises in a friendly format.

I speak to public groups and law firms often. This book has given me a new way of looking at my messages, how best to deliver them to varied audiences, communicate complex ideas and ultimately has helped me shift my otherwise predictable 30-second elevator speech into a more productive tool for reaching and intriguing listeners.

Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press, Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin is a slam-dunk, no brainer for lawyers who want to improve their chances of being heard by those who engage them. Available June 1, 2011.



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