Business Continuity Commercial Elevator Speech

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. I hope you enjoy the chapter and my book.

Business Continuity Commercial Elevator Speech

It’s BC Story time!!!

Grab some coffee and cookies and get comfy while I take you on a wild-and-crazy ‘based on a true story’ ride straight up – or down depending on how you look at it!

It is important to have a clear concise value-laden business resilience / continuity elevator pitch.  If you do not have one, I encourage you to develop a short version (30 seconds or less) and a longer version (31 seconds to 1 minute maximum).

If you do not think you need an elevator pitch I suggest you pour that coffee, digest some cookies and enjoy the following story. It just might strike a nerve.

Value of your elevator pitch:

  1. An elevator pitch will help you make a great first impression.
  2. It will eliminate the possibility of a career breaking bad first impression.
  3. You only get one chance at a first impressions – so don’t blow the opportunity.
  4. You never get a second chance at a first impression.

Your elevator pitch must concisely convey the enormous value you and business resilience bring to your organization. Until you have your elevator pitch ready be very careful who you share an elevator ride with. The last thing you want is for Big Shot Vice President (BSVP) to bump into you in the elevator and the following, based on true events, nightmare unfolds. I promise you, one bad experience will keep you up at night replaying shoulda, woulda, coulda… If you do not know that person standing next to you, make believe you just got a call and take the next elevator until you are ready to pitch.

The Elevator Ride to Nowhere – ‘based on a true story’

Starring: Billy B. Boring…as himself

Co Starring: Big Shot Vice President (BSVP)…as herself

Scene 1 setup:

Time: 11 am – Billy B. Boring’s first morning at Always Available Investments and Trading …

Please read the next sentence in your best Rod Serling Twilight Zone Voice. He was the creator, host and writer of many Twilight Zone episodes in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They still hold up well today. Reruns can be seen on SciFi TV and during Twilight Zone marathons every year around Holiday time in December.

‘I submit for your approval Billy B. Boring, a freshly minted Business Continuity Analyst. It is his first day on the job and unbeknownst to him… he is about to enter the Business Resilience Twilight Zone; in ‘The Elevator Ride to Nowhere’.


Billy B. Boring just completed his mandatory two hour boooooring HR indoctrination at Always Available Investments and Trading.

‘Wow’, he sighs, ‘it feels like it is 5 pm.’ Billy checks his watch. ‘Yikes! It is only 11 am! Did my watch stop?”

Sorry Billy, HR meetings can move in slooooow motion. It really is only 11 am – in the Business Resilience Twilight Zone. The good news is it is time to go straight up to the 72nd floor to meet with your new business continuity teammates.

The creeky elevator door opens. This bandbox has seen better days. Definitely a never-restored 1930’s relic. Billy rushes in and presses the well-worn copper button for the 72nd floor. Haltingly, the door grinds shut. Immediately, sweat begins seeping from Billy’s pores as his mind races back to 1993 and the time he got stuck in an antiquated elevator with a broken door exposing bare concrete between floors 53 and 54 for an endless 45 minutes in the Marcos owned but neglected 40 Wall Street building. He worked for the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company at the time. That event freaked him out and he has never been the same. As every good business resilience professional knows, every crisis has learning opportunities and Billy definitely learned he is claustrophobic (much like me – hmmm).

Immediately Billy feels a presence over his right shoulder. Well, look who is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him? Yup, it’s Big Shot Vice President (BSVP). Billy briefly shook hands with her a couple of weeks ago, during his final job interview. Of course, at that time his hands were dripping with sweat from interview anxiety. Today it is claustrophobic anxiety – sort of a sweeter, stronger, more pungent smell. Wow, today is his lucky day.

BSVP’s office is in the penthouse on the 75th floor. The button is faintly lit. Billy was never great at math but he rattles off some quick calculations and approximates the travel time in this tin can of an elevator – 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi – 2nd floor – carry the 1… his calculations indicate it will take almost two minutes to get to his sky-high destination. Why-oh-why couldn’t his office have been on the 6th floor?

By the 7th floor Billy is a wreck, the elevator is belching, wheezing and straining… and it is only going to get worse the higher it goes kiddo. BSVP glances over at him and matter-of-factly says, ‘hey, do I know you? What do you do around here?’’

Oh s!*t we’re off to the races. Unfortunately, unlike you and I, Billy never took the time to develop his elevator pitch. He was too busy drinking and partying. Sorry Billy, you can’t go home and get under the covers – you have officially entered the Business Resilience Twilight Zone.

Billy, panics and just says the first things that pop into his mind.  ‘Well hello I’m Billy B. Boring, I am the new BC guy. I do BIA’s, DA’s, RA’s, BCP’s and WAR exercises. Oh yeah, I have a CBCP.’

BSVP: with bewilderment says, ‘huh, what did you say?”

Fear not, Billy has a few more juicy acronyms that BSVP won’t give a crap about, but Billy is going to have to hurl them at her anyway. He starts slinging…

‘I also analyze RTO’s, RPO’s, build RACI charts and when I have all of that finished two years from now I will document it in a BCP!’’

Billy Boring, WTF did you just do?

BSVP is so glazed over by now she is the one with the anxiety sweats. She instantly taps the button for the 12th floor – yeah you’re not even at 12 yet Billy. She didn’t get to her lofty position without thinking on her feet. It is life or death in her mind, a few more acronyms and she might be screaming for help by the 18th floor. Billy is slinging like an out of control pitching machine at a dusty old arcade.

She literally spits out (so keep your distance): ‘Billy, it sounds like that acronym mumbo-jumbo might mean something to somebody but I just realized I have to get off at 12 to speak with HR about someone. It sort of just came up. I hope you enjoy your day here.’

Uh-oh. Billy is rightfully concerned – ‘hmmm what did she mean by it just came up and you enjoy your day here?’

End of Scene 1

Ok, so maybe we can learn from this career crisis event. Some sage tips from someone who has been there, done that and learned from his ways:

Tip – When trying to make an impression don’t sling an endless stream of fancy acronyms only you, me and our fellow ACBP, CBCP or MBCP’s can decipher (yikes, now I’m doing it!).

Tip – Do make the pitch all about them. Focus the value as it applies to the person you are speaking with.

Tip – Do make your pitch simple and clear. Sort of like you are designing the business continuity pitch version of the iPhone.

Tip – Do let them know what you really do is ’empower your business to successfully respond to any type of disruptive event through preparation and practice.’ You can even guaranty it, because if the business does go under – you are gone anyway.

Tip – Do remind them of the big storm when poor competitor ‘YouPickIt Company’ got crushed by that hurricane and had no tested business continuity plans in place. Shareholder lawsuits galore, all jobs lost…eventually they went out of business. Remind them of that. It is very effective. That will never happen here! You keep people in jobs so they can lead happy lives, send their kids to school and pay their bills. Always use a value first approach.

Tip – Do let them know how, as part of building a resilient business continuity program you will become uniquely familiar with all the processes and how they interact. This will enable you to point out ways to improve processes, increase efficiency, save them money and possibly make them a great deal more money! They will love it!

More good news for you. Take these tips seriously and you probably will get an invite to the next upper management luncheon. Hey, with your cool new elevator pitch – I want to hire you!

The best part is, everything in your value-laden elevator pitch is true or should be true – if you are doing your job to the best of your ability.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS – SELL YOURSELF! Make it 30 seconds they will never forget! Write it, tweak it, memorize it and practice it in front of a mirror until it just rolls off your tongue. Role play it with friends. Do an exercise – practice it in an empty elevator – yeah I do that. Whoever is monitoring the security video footage must think I am a bit crazy talking to myself and gesturing with my hands. But who cares. An untested elevator pitch is a worthless elevator pitch!

Make them gravitate to you when they see you in the hall, instead of running the other way.

When they get off that elevator ride make them wish it was going to the 150th floor!