The â€œElevator Speechâ€ is a pretty common way to self-promote and market. Iâ€™d always heard that the term â€œelevator speechâ€ came out of GE when Jack Welsh was there as a way of making sure that a team had a succinct and compelling explanation for what they were about.
I mention the elevator speech because performance consultants have traditionally been challenged with finding clear, coherent ways to explain to co-workers and potential clients what it is that they do. An elevator speech is a 30 second explanation of who you are professionally and what you do.
A far better alternative in my opinion (at least when it comes to explaining performance consulting) is the audio-logo. I learned the audio-logo from Rebecca Birch. She told me she learned it from Lynn Kearney.
The template for an audio-logo is â€œI help ________ to do __________.â€ An example would be â€œI help Operations to spot process improvementsâ€ or â€œI help the Directors to establish the impact of specific solutionsâ€ or â€œI help the Field Offices to shorten delivery time.â€
Part of the problem of trying to explain performance consulting to someone unfamiliar with the field is that most explanations tend to sound too general and all encompassing like â€œa systematic and systemic approach to achieve business objectives by improving human performanceâ€ (which is a good definition of performance consulting by the wayâ€”but not an effective way to clarify what it is and how it works to someone unfamiliar with the field.)
I like the audio-logo for a couple of reasons over the elevator speech. For starters, itâ€™s short, even shorter than the typical elevator speech. For another, it provides a tangible example. Most elevator speeches about performance tend to be general and broad. But the audio-logo provides a specific example. The audio-logo is easily remembered by the person youâ€™re talking with. Not only is it easy to remember but it helps people get a handle on some of the things performance consultants are capable of doing. Finally, the most common response after you deliver your audio-logo is â€œhow do you do that?â€ which opens the door for you to go into more detail about how performance consulting works and why itâ€™s different from more traditional approaches to work issues.
A common objection some consultants have when I first explain the audio-logo to them is â€œwell, I do more than just help the call center answer questions more accurately or help teams solve problems quicker.â€ Part of this is driven by a fear that if I only give one example of what Iâ€™m capable of doing (helping engineering) than the potential client will assume that since sheâ€™s not part of engineering I canâ€™t help here. And that fear encourages performance consultants to give the â€œkitchen sinkâ€ elevator speech/definition that explains everything they can do rather than focusing on one specific example. This fear ignores the reality that a broad, all-encompassing explanation is so general that clients canâ€™t get their arms around it. So in my experience, itâ€™s better to define what we do (performance consulting) by providing a specific example (thus, the audio-logo) that elicits the question â€œhow do you do that?â€ rather than start with the broad all-encompassing definition that instead encourages people to tune out. And that also then allows the performance consultant to talk about how â€œand I can do this for more than just engineering too!â€