Students Rise with Elevator Speeches

When you think of elevators, what may come to mind is the silent ride up or down with an often tightly packed group of peers. But every spring at Nichols, elevators actually provide a source of inspiration.

We’ve just finished our fourth annual Elevator Speech Competition, which challenges student contestants to come up with a compelling and compact self-introduction. The idea is to develop a speech that they could present to a potential employer sharing the same elevator. The biggest challenge: there are only 45 to 60 seconds available before the doors open.

2016 4 20 Elevator SpeechOn this one evening every year, a number of those students show just how far they have come in their self-knowledge and their ability to put it into words. Nichols Business Communication Chair Luanne Westerling came up with this novel and productive contest, which capitalizes on the many times that students have had to make presentations during their Nichols careers.

From a handful of competitors four years ago, the Elevator Speech Competition has expanded to dozens of participants, who this year had to prevail in an elimination round to make it into the finals. The prizes have grown as well, with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers winning $500, $400, and $300 respectively.

The speakers who moved me the most during this year’s competition talked about overcoming personal tragedy or challenges—the loss of a loved one or having a father who worked nearly round the clock to support his family. It was remarkable to me that students would be able to talk about these things without breaking down—I sure sniffled a bit here and there.

I would be proud to share an elevator with all of them.

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