Terry L. Sjodin has written Small Message, Big Impact: How To Put The Power Of The Elevator Speech Effect To Work For You. Sjodin is founder of Sjodin Communications, a firm that specializes in communications training for business.
When I first starting reading this book, I had my doubts. I’ve never been a big fan of elevator speeches. I’ve been in elevator speech workshops in the past and I can tell you it was painful to listen to dozens of people prattle on with some nonsense about how if you would only buy their services they could help you achieve all your dreams. The only saving grace was that they had to keep it to a couple of minutes each.
This book doesn’t do that. It is a book about communicating ideas in a short amount of time. Sjodin has a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Speech Communication and she was a self-professed “speech geek” throughout high school and college. Her education and debating experience really shows in this this book. Her approach is logical and built on a solid academic foundation.
The book will take your speech from a blank sheet of paper to getting in front of your prospect to present it. The book includes many worksheets to help you organize your ideas. One of my favourite parts of the book talks about how to make a speech “memorable, impactful and effective”. She writes that these speeches meet 3 benchmarks:
- Case – A logical argument with evidence to back it up.
- Creativity – The need to make it interesting for the listener.
- Delivery – Present the message in your authentic voice
I think the third benchmark is often overlooked. Most elevator speeches I’ve heard sound like a politician trying to sell me something. They don’t sound natural and this leaves the impression the speaker is not being honest. While Sjodin talks about taking a scrappy approach to get in front of your prospect, she doesn’t promote anything unethical. This is keeping in line with using an honest voice. An elevator speech should communicate your idea in a short amount of time, it shouldn’t be an acting performance given by some character you are playing.
My only criticism of the book is that the first chapter tries to hammer home the value of the elevator speech. It is repetitious in doing so and it gets annoying quickly. However, the chapter is short and the excellent content in rest of the book makes this a minor irritation. If you are having the same issues with the first chapter that I did, I recommend that you just push though.
The communications lessons in this book will be useful for anyone who has to make a pitch for something in a short amount of time. People often think that because they are not in sales, a book like this wouldn’t be useful. In my experience, everyone at some time has to make a persuasive argument for something. This book can help you be prepared for those moments.
In the interest of full disclosure, we received an advance copy of the book, free of charge. We were asked to give it an honest review, which we have.