Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elevator Talk - An Advocacy Tool

There are times when you only have a brief opportunity to make a personal contact with someone, perhaps a key decision maker in your community or school district. There's an old adage that says "you only have one chance to make a good first impression." In those cases, you want to be prepared to share a personal story about your school or about an issue you care about.

These short, often no more than 30 seconds, stories are called "elevator talks" because they occur quickly, on the spur of the moment and don't last long. People tire quickly of tedious talk but they can be motivated to action by a short, engaging story about some event, some success, some person at your school. When I was a principal I quickly learned the importance of having a whole set of "elevator talks" that I could use when casually meeting parents or community members. The encounters were often in the aisles of a grocery store, in the parking lot after church, on the sidelines of a soccer game, in the stands at a basketball game or many other places. And it often started with a questions such as "how  are things going?" Each encounter provided a unique opportunity to share about my school.

Advocating for their school, for their students and staff, and for assuring that every child has an engaging academic experience is one of a principal's most important roles. And one of the most compelling ways to advocate is through the use of stories or short "elevator talks." I'd encourage you to develop your repertoire of stories and would enjoy hearing from you about your success advocating for your school.

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