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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

What's your elevator speech?

Published August 31, 2011 9:51 PM by Glen McDaniel


What's your elevator speech? It is very important to be able to articulate in a few succint words who you are and what you. Most of us have heard the term elevator speech before. But if you haven't, it is a short description of who you are, what you do, or the important argument you wish to make to a decision maker-all presented in the time it takes for an elevator ride.

How did this term originate? Well in most organizations it might be difficult to get an appointment with upper management or someone who can make a difference in your career. However we sometimes run into that important person in an elevator.

Generally people who share an elevator ride avoid speaking or making eye contact. Sometimes they will make small talk about the weather and might even ask "What do you do?" or "What department do you work in?" In any event during that brief encounter you have a captive audience and can tell your story effectively. But you must be ready.

As laboratorians we have an especially difficult time explaining what we do. We sometimes mention "working in the lab," or "doing lab work". Neither phrase explains who we are, what skills we use and how important our role is.

My friend and colleague, Sheri Gon, a professor at the University of Hawaii, recently shared with me that her elevator speech is   "Medical Laboratory Scientists take the guesswork out of medicine." That says quite a lot in just a few words, doesn't it?

Another good one I have heard is something along the lines of  "I am a medical lab scientist. I analyze patient specimens to provide vital information the physician uses to diagnose and treat a disease. In fact, over 70 percent of medical decisions are based on the information my colleagues and I provide." 

If you were a curious bystander, family member or friend wouldn't you want to hear more?

It could be that you want to pitch an idea to an administrator or other decision-maker about some new perk for the laboratory. Already predisposed to cost savings and being petitioned by many departments competing for his attention and funds, he needs to hear in a few sentences why he should expend time and resources on you and your colleagues.

Whether you want to sell yourself, brand yourself, pitch an idea or simply educate, make sure you have your elevator speech prepared and ready to go. Your future might well depend on it.


Have you ever heard the expression that someone is always "on'? That comes from the showbiz reference

November 18, 2012 12:54 PM

On Monday the country celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Although King was actually born

January 14, 2012 2:30 PM

Reshonda, thanks for your comment. It is understandable to be nervous when speaking in public or selling yourself in some way. It's difficult coming up with one "catch all" speech. In fact I would suggest consciously thinking about (and writing down) your subject, goal and audience. Those three factors  will dictate not just the content, but also the language and tone you use.

For example, when you are considering your be clear about whether you are trying to brand yourself, inform, pitch/sell yourself or an idea, convince, or educate. What feeling do you want to leave the decision maker with: "I want to know more, " "This person can fill some need I have," or even "Now I know who this person is."  There could be others, these are just examples.

In terms of delivery, try to speak clearly and slowly (I know you only have a few minutes, but you want to appear confident and in control). Deliver the speech naturally (even though you have rehearsed it). Make eye contact. Smile.

Before you deliver the speech, prepare by rehearsing it and asking a valued colleague or family member for an honest critique. Ask them if your speech is likley to meet your goal. Be willing to adjust/revise  as necessary.

That seems like a lot of thought and energy for  a short speech. But that degree of introspection, thought and preparation are necessary for a natural effective delivery.

Glen McDaniel September 1, 2011 10:53 PM

My problem is not that I get so nervous. Also I am not sure what words will convince the person in such a short time. I have met the CEO in the hallway of the hospital but you  hardly have time to say hello. If they are in the elevator by the time I collect myself they are gone. I mean what couple sentences can I memorize to use?

Reshonda , MT September 1, 2011 6:46 PM
Patterson NJ

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