What is an “elevator speech”?

An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, why you are valuable, and how you can benefit your stakeholders. It’s typically about 30 seconds to 1 minute, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.

Elevator speeches are handy to have rehearsed to advocate for school library programs in all kinds of situations: those planned and those unexpected.

Let’s start with “why”. 

Nobody know what you do better than you.

  • If you don’t blow your own horn, no one else will.
  • The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
  • Advocacy begins with you!

Three characteristics of an elevator speech:

  • Short
  • Specific
  • Memorable

When can you use them?  

Elevator speeches are helpful when meeting a new principal, goal-setting meetings, and school board or parent meetings. They are also helpful outside of school–at the soccer field, the dollar store, or any place where the conversation leads to the purpose of school libraries or school librarians.

Who can use them?

School librarians, district coordinators, state-level leaders, affiliate assembly members, committee member, and university professors can all use elevator speeches to advocate for school library programs. Parents and students can also be your allies in advocacy efforts.

What are the components of an elevator speech?

Here is a sample:  




Mcusick. “The Elevator Speech.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues, 17 Oct. 2016, www.ala.org/advocacy/advocacy-university/school-library-resources/elevator-speech.



Author: Sedley Abercrombie

Sedley Abercrombie is the district digital learning and library media programs specialist for Davidson County Schools in North Carolina, an NCSLMA executive board member, and an adjunct instructor at East Carolina University.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

1 reply

  1. I love the “speech” presentation. You were short and to the point! I would advocate for you:)

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