A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The elevator speech

An “elevator speech” is a verbal presentation designed to explain and persuade within a very short period of time (e.g., the length of an elevator ride).

The expression evokes the scenario of a corporate underling who finds himself in an elevator with the CEO and has less than a minute to sell her on a business plan.

In today’s first reading (Nehemiah 2:1-8) we have one of the most ancient examples of this kind of interaction, as Nehemiah the functionary finds himself in conversation with the ruler of the empire.

Nehemiah is wildly successful in this forerunner of all “elevator speeches” and this provides good opportunities for our reflection.

Preparing an “elevator speech” is a very good technique not only for business communications or selling, but also for giving witness to our faith.

However, elevator speeches can easily backfire, if not well-prepared or properly presented. We all know fellow Christians and other religious proselytizers who have canned “elevator speeches” to spur conversions but end up being counterproductive.

We would do well to consider the example of Nehemiah’s “elevator speech.”

First of all, Nehemiah prays continuously and fervently, before his encounter with the king and even while he is speaking.

Secondly, Nehemiah is extremely personal, referring to his own experience and feelings.

Perhaps we should think about an elevator speech that we could have ready for the next unexpected occasion for us to share our faith, remembering to pray fervently – beforehand, during, and afterward – so that the grace of God may empower our simple words to move the hearts of men.