Short on Face Time? Maximize Your Impact with an Elevator Speech

Leadership Connections Blog

Time is a scare resource. Use it wisely!

Tanya, a manager in manufacturing, is a strong performer who keeps her area running smoothly.  Because of her high performance, his frequent travel schedule, and more urgent issues with other parts of his team, her manager does not spend much time with her. However, Tanya knows the importance of managing up and is concerned that, if her manager does not know enough about what is going on in her group, that may become a problem if issues arise.

You may have heard of the concept of the “elevator speech”:  essentially, a summary that you could deliver to your manager in the span of an average elevator ride.  You can think of this concept when trying to organize regular updates with your manager, by creating a quick and easy “elevator speech” format covering your team’s activity, key accomplishments, and open items. 
 * Use bullet points to share activity and key accomplishments
 * Use a color code that denotes stage of an open item
 * Ask open-ended questions that require your manager to share what he has heard you say, such as 

       - “Tell me your thoughts on the 3 open items I outlined.” 
       - “I would appreciate your input on how to move things forward on ____.”
       - “What additional information do I need to be aware of?”

 * Summarize points agreed to in the conversation
 * Schedule yourself onto your manager’s calendar (through his assistant) on a regular basis with a combination of phone and face-to-face meetings. Ask your manager to commit to keeping these meetings

Leader’s Reaction:
Tanya agreed with the “elevator speech” approach.  She struggled to get all of her items into that format at first, however, once she got it “boiled down,” she felt confident she could deliver the right amount of information in the allotted time.

Tanya was able to use her elevator speech with her manager and was very happy with the results.  They were able to cover all of the items on her list in less than 30 minutes and had more time to talk about additional topics under her leadership.

Here are some additional resources on this topic:

“Managing Up” Through The Looking Glass by Roz Usheroff

3 Rules to Managing Up by J.T. O'Donnell