Death of the Elevator Pitch?

Dan Roam, Blah, Blah, Blah, book
Are you blah, blah, blah'ing?

Last week at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#12NTC), Dan Roam showed how non profits could draw their way to communications success.

He gave new meaning to “show and tell”!

In Roam’s new book, Blah, Blah, Blah, he posits that the person–or organization–who can best describe a problem is in the best position to solve it. This should give us all pause. Consider how much time we spend trying to fix things vs. making sure we’ve clearly identified the most important things to be fixed…makes you want to bust out a marker and hit the whiteboard.

Here’s my beef: Sauntering on up to a whiteboard, or whipping out a napkin with pictures on it, isn’t a practical substitute in certain instances.

Envision with me, if you will, the following: You’re at the airport waiting for your flight. You strike up a conversation with another waylayed traveler. After awhile, your new-found companion asks: “What do you do?”

There’s no whiteboard to be found and passing him or her a napkin that shows what you do would be downright awkward!

Let me be clear: the case Roam makes is that we need to get our visual and verbal minds back in balance. He’s advocating that we flex our visual mind muscles more than our verbal muscles for a spell to get them in shape. Our verbal mind has been honed, shaped and forged through years of school and testing. Our visual mind, not so much. (At no point on any standardized test are we graded on our ability to draw an answer to a problem, right?)

I agree 100% that using our visual mind to better define problems yields superior results to relying solely on words.

That doesn’t mean you stop fine-tuning your elevator pitch.

Here’s what I’d recommend: Use the visual grammar that Roam teaches in his book to define the problem you’re tackling. Then do the word+picture combo to articulate your unique approach to solving the problem. Then come up with a word only version you can use next time you’re stuck at the airport or a cocktail party or networking event or…you get the point.

Do we overuse words? Yes. Are we often sloppy with our words? Yes. Are they still useful? Yes.

If you’re intrigued by visual thinking, read Roam’s book. See how you can apply it to your mission, your work, your cause.


No more light knocking: Unexpected Inspiration from #12NTC

door, old door, wooden door
No one can hear you when you knock lightly!

“Stop knocking lightly on the door of change. We’ve got to knock it down! People are counting on you.” 

By day, Jeff Shuck runs Event 360. By night (or perhaps in the wee hours of the morning as he has 4 kids!), he blogs at Your Part Matters.

At the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference, Jeff gave a session on using data to effectively segment your audiences. There was talk of regression and p-values and pivot tables. Not what many would consider “inspiring”, although highly useful.

That’s why his closing was so unexpected…and awesome.

After geeking out for 87 minutes, Jeff took the last 3 minutes to implore the audience to get serious about doing good. To do more. To do it louder. To get more people involved. To really give this making the world a better place stuff everything we’ve got.

I said a really loud “Amen!” and whooped a lot at the end. If it’d been remotely appropriate, I would’ve stood on my chair and cheered.

We’d spent the morning listening to Dan Roam, author of Blah, Blah, Blah, so we all had visual representation on our minds. But Jeff’s words gave us all a mental picture that we can use every day to gauge our effort, if not our impact:

Did we knock the door down today or simply lightly knock, hoping not to disturb anyone with our do-gooder ways?

Perhaps it’s not realistic that every day we’ll knock the door off its hinges. But just by asking the question, we’re way more likely to way more often, right?

Even if you’re not an Excel whiz or a data-head, check out his session for that last bit. It’s worth it.

For  more inspiration, check out the Do Gooder Video award winners, which were announced at the conference. (Get out the hankies!)


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?