Elevator Speech for project manager’s weekly status report
Absolutely no longer than ~50 seconds
I was remembering my good old project manager’s day. For your weekly project status reporting meeting, often the customer(even stakeholders) will come late and ask “I’ll not have time to go through details…Can you run through the summary slide?”
A bomb! I don’t know how/what to say to him now. Here I had prepared for 2 days with careful details on every slide with diagrams/ information, whereas I’m now asked for something else.
It took me one or two meetings to figure out what he was looking for. Off course there is no predefined template for it. It’s more of experience, rather learning from your experience.
So, this is a project manager’s systematic approach to prepare for the elevator speech.
What is an elevator speech?
An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about any topic. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator. (The idea behind having an elevator speech is that you are prepared to share this information with anyone, at anytime, even in an elevator.)
It’s basically the shortest possible summary with the information what he wants to hear/learn.
💡More importantly, it’s the most important updates. Mostly,the prioritised ones.
#1 Overall Status of the project
First the basic.
- What is the current status of the project? Are we on-track or off track?
- Are we able to meet the milestones?
- In which phase of the project we are in?
- Is there any upcoming milestone approaching?
The above questions can generate a lot of information but all answers will not be pertinent at every meeting. Even if it is, you can answer it within a few words.
#2 Plan of action/activities before the next meeting
Next to the meat.
Basically, once the project status is shared, the customer might be already visualising the next tasks in the pipeline. So, you need to align on the next activities.
- What are the next “major” activities?
- What important tasks are coming up which needs to be managed?
- Who will perform the tasks?
- How long will it take to complete?
Here, the timeline is very important. You need to timebox the activity so that you set the correct expectations. In the corporate world, it’s all about information/status/action sharing. So, unless you set the expectation, it becomes difficult to survive.
#3 Bottleneck which needs his/her management attention
End with actions. No, don’t take it, rather give.
- What support is needed to keep your commitments outlined above?
- What do you need the customer to do now? Any approvals? Decisions?
This is what he/she wants to hear (rather, NOT wants to hear) in the elevator speech. Does he/she need to do anything?
He will be happy if there is nothing for him, but that’s not what reality is. You would need his support to make the project successful.
So, go for it. Make it timeboxed. Specify by when the support needs to close, to allow sufficient time.
When I look back now on the summary slide, isn’t that the daily updates provided at standups in Agile? Yes,it’s not same, but it’s quite similar.
In summary, make a practice speech with above 3x points to make it perfect.
Focus on removing the jargon and details, while eliminating unnecessary words. Select your words carefully.
Your elevator address has to flow naturally and smoothly. So, don’t rush.