Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Is Your Elevator Speech?

Turning my favorite quotes into greetings of encouragement

When I started my calligraphy business three years ago, I attended small business workshops, determined to be successful from the start. As any self-employed individual will likely say, it has been a continuous learning experience in wearing many different hats—promoter, advertiser, saleswoman, accountant, computer tech (my least favorite!), etc. Somewhere down the line, the hat of my business intent is put on and calligraphy calls out for attention saying, “Hey! I’ve been waiting for you to show up!”

The Burning Question


One thing that stuck with me from those business workshops is the question, “What is your elevator speech?  If only given the amount of time it takes for an elevator ride to introduce myself and explain my work to a stranger, how do I accomplish that most effectively and eloquently? 

After numerous times telling people that I am a calligrapher and watching their eyes glaze over in incomprehension, I decided to tell the next person, “I am a lettering artist.”  The kind gentleman replied, “Oh!  You’re a calligrapher!”  The first person of many who knew what calligraphy is!  

display sample for my Foundational calligraphy class

My ‘favorite’ response from people is, “Oh, I did that once,” or, “That’s pretty writing, right?”  As I have learned and try to impart to my students, the art of calligraphy is so much more than learning to make pretty letters! 

 An "A-Ha!" Moment


In trying to devise my own elevator speech, I remembered a conversation I had with my aunt’s sister, Brigitte.  When I told her I’m a calligrapher, she responded with enthusiasm and said, “What’s your favorite part about what you do?”  Wow!  That simple question allowed me to briefly say how much I love the deep, rich history of calligraphy and sharing that with my students.  I also told her I enjoy doing calligraphy for weddings, knowing that I can add a special and beautiful touch to the details of a memorable day.

wedding envelope calligraphy

Brigitte also reminded me of the importance of really listening to someone when they talk about their life or occupation.  I make more of an effort now to ask questions, because after all, it’s human nature to want to share our passion—whether it’s a job, family, or special interest.

lettering art sample for classes

So, what is my elevator speech?  “I am an artist and teacher of calligraphy and its ancient history—an art that gives beauty and visual interest to the written word.”  For now, that’s enough to say—it will change over time and that’s okay.  Thanks Brigitte, for giving me a new insight.

Now it's your turn...what is YOUR elevator speech?       


  1. Interesting and thought provoking blog and a great elevator speech. Now I'll have to think about what "my elevator speech" is. Never thought about it that way.

  2. I ♥ that e.e. Cummings quote. You did it beautifully. :)