For roughly the first half of the session — give an hour or so while the other noobs and I were busy assembling jigsaw puzzles — their casual references of this elevator speech concept did more to confuse me than anything.
My first thought was, “I don’t know anything about the inner workings of elevators — except for my relatively limited knowledge of pneumatic vacuum systems, of course, but what does any of that have to do with the world of finance and banking?”
And then my thoughts went all like, “Wait. Do I have to give a speech in an elevator? Will everyone stay on for all floors during my speech? Or will I have to deal with people constantly getting on and off while I’m orating? Because that could get distracting.”
But then as the orientation instructors went on about this elevator speech idea, they started mentioning stuff about how we would all need to be able to describe our jobs to strangers.
I’m not quite sure why they wanted us to tell strangers about our jobs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up being told not to talk to strangers.
Then I asked myself what telling strangers stuff about my job had to do with elevators, because I really wanted to know. It still didn’t make sense to me.
All I could think about was how I don’t usually take elevators if I have the option to take the stairs. Well, unless I have to go up like 30 stories or something, because then, even as a stairwell regular, I’d probably get all sweaty and out of breath and stuff, and that’s not fun for anyone.
I understand that there are some legitimate needs for elevators. I also understand that they can simply make things easier even if you don’t truly need to use them, and I further understand that’s probably why most people use them. However, sometimes I just prefer to do my own thing, so it’s the stairs for me.
You may not like the stairs yourself, but if you were ever to consider taking them, I promise there are, like, millions of reasons to do so. Okay, “millions” might be a stretch. But I did come up with four:
- Hip hop calves. Even if you’re not walking up a ton of flights of stairs, walking up one is better exercise than none. I don’t have a degree in kinesiology or pulmonology or anything, but I’d say it probably builds leg strength and endurance. And if you’re awesome, you can skip every other stair for a more intense workout.
- 28 Floors Later. You know how many germs circulate within elevators? Yeah, neither do I. But I just have to assume those boxes are veritable Petri dishes during cold and flu season. Well, maybe not, but that just seems like a reasonable guess to me. At the very least, I’m sure the buttons are all germy or something.
- Peace and quiet. Who really wants to talk to people? Especially in the morning? And that’s when you deal with most people on an elevator. Everyone comes in to work all tired and then you’re faced with the decision of either standing around awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact so as not to have to speak with anyone, or giving in to the feeling of obligation to make small talk about what you bought at the grocery store last night or how your mailman keeps delivering your mail to your next door neighbor.
- I don’t mean to brag. If the company you work for is like mine, then you have a yearly fire drill, which may include turning off the elevators to force a more realistic exit. But if your company's like mine, then you know they also take forever to turn the elevators back on. So, the more accustomed to walking up stairs you are, the less winded you’ll be at the end of the drill when you walk back into the building and up the stairs. Then you can be the person walking around telling everyone who’s breathing heavily, “Oh, y’know, I take the stairs ALL THE TIME. Because I’m awesome. So, yeah, that’s why I’m not all, like, tired and out of breath like everyone else and stuff.”
I have to admit that I’m not completely opposed to taking elevators, and I do happen to do so on occasion. However, if and when I do, no one should expect me to deliver any speeches while I’m on one.
However, all bets on public speaking are off if they ever build some escalators at my job.