Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Elevator Speech is (still) Dead

I think the entire idea of developing an elevator pitch should be scrapped.

Over at A Storied Career Blog, Katherine has posted a discussion about the issues of putting storytelling into one's elevator speech. Overall, I think Katherine has a great blog. This particular post, however, reminds me of one of my frequent battles: The Elevator Speech Is Dead.

My podcast on this subject is at:

It always surprises me to see people teaching this archaic communication tool. The "elevator pitch" (EP) is designed to snag or sell. Are we still doing that in today's world? Are we still trying to "get" people? Is this the 90's where the whole world is full of dot-com startups begging for a venture capitalist to give a moment of attention?

Storytelling is a sole and single source of business communication that contains everything you need to communicate. Our job, no matter what our work is, is to create our Core Story. Once that is done and done correctly through the use of episodic creation, we now have a tool that can be broken down into the very quickest of communication in an elevator to a full-on presentation in a keynote.

Trying to make a story fit our EP (uggh) is like building a house and then wondering if you can find a way to pour some cement into the foundation now that the house is finished. Start with storytelling and your core story, not with an elevator speech. Start with the full knowledge and understanding of your story and then the rest falls right into place. Yes, it's still work but at least you are not trying to fit an elephant into a tutu.

There is so much going on where folks are dabbling in storytelling rather than embracing it for the essential and most foundation too that it is. I've been teaching my clients for years now: choose a project, wipe the slate clean and build your new approach upon the foundation of the story and storytelling techniques.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.


  1. Can you provide a link to what you mean by "create our Core Story"? The concept is intriguing but not one I've heard in the storytelling circles I've visited.

  2. I agree Sean. I've been using the 'Core Story' idea in my work with business leaders and it's struck a chord. Start with their own stories about who they are, what inspires and gives them passion, how they got to where they are, who helped along the way and connect with values and principles. Later, I help them connect their story with their company's story. Exciting stuff. Amy, you might want to check out Karen Dietz's work on 'core stories' at Of course, Sean is also a mine of valuable information. Best of luck in your work.