PDA

View Full Version : What's your FIRST Elevator Pitch?


Michael Sperber
11-24-2009, 07:50 AM
Instead of reviving an old thread started by John Boucher a little over two years ago (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58950), I thought it would be important to start clean and fresh... after all, FIRST has changed a lot in the past two years.

With all the discussion (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=79059) about the "Educate to Innovate" initiative launched by President Obama yesterday at the White House, I figured it would be important for all of us to practice, share and improve our promotion of FIRST within our communities.

Usually, this comes down to having to explain FIRST to someone who does not know anything about FIRST or the FIRST programs... and having to share that message in a clear, clean and concise format within an extremely short period of time. (If you take too long, you risk losing their interest.) Thus, the Elevator Pitch.

Here's an explanation of an Elevator Pitch from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_speech):
An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch should be possible to deliver in the time span of an elevator ride, meaning in a maximum of 30 seconds and in 130 words or fewer.

The term is typically used in the context of an entrepreneur pitching an idea to a venture capitalist or angel investor to receive funding. Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea and team on the basis of the quality of its elevator pitch, and will ask entrepreneurs for the elevator pitches to quickly weed out bad ideas and weak teams.

A variety of other people, including entrepreneurs, project managers, salespeople, evangelists, policy-makers, job seekers, and speed daters commonly use elevator pitches to get their point across quickly.


So... What's your FIRST Elevator Pitch?

JesseK
11-24-2009, 10:49 AM
You know I've never given thought to a verbal pitch. I've always "pitched" it via whatever situation I've been given, be it presentation format, handouts, etc.

There was one I created that was an animated power point, emphasizing the noisiness and single-threaded-ness of most STEM programs funded by private organisations. Then FIRST comes in with a loud, powerful statement that FIRST seeks to change the way we see things as a nation: Academics should be celebrated more than athletics; the future of our childrens' success rests solely in the hands of what those hands create rather than in the latest economic bubble or sociological fad; the organisation that helps FIRST meet it's monumental goals will not have to do it alone.

It was in different words than those, but the idea was to show how FIRST stands out from the rest of the STEM initiatives while also delivering Dean's message as I've gathered it from all of his speeches.

JaneYoung
11-24-2009, 11:57 AM
Yesterday's event at the White House shows the value of speech writers and also, people who do research and preparation so that the event goes well. The more prepared the team is (and not just one or two - the whole team), armed with a brief elevator pitch, information regarding the team's history, and some thoughts of why the program is valuable to them as individuals, as a team, and as a community - is a strong asset for the team in any setting or situation. There is a photo that I've seen that shows the teams and guests sitting and listening while President Obama is speaking and the robot is being demonstrated. They are listening, attentive, and focused. Their professional conduct speaks well for the teams and the program, long after the event is over.

KelliV
11-24-2009, 11:58 AM
I have to give this a lot at my school actually, here's what I generally do...

"In high school and elementary school I was involved in FIRST, a multi-national high intensity robotics competition that partners students with engineers and local scientists from major corporations, For example, mine was sponsored by Motorola Inc., in order to promote STEM education initiatives. The FIRST season usually has 6 weeks of building followed by a month of competitions culminating with the World Championships. Robots usually weigh in around 120lbs and range in heights up to 15 feet tall.

Being in FIRST has not only helped me develop technical skills, but also improved my people skills and taught me how to work successfully in an engaging competitive environment with not only teammates, but competitors as well. These skills have helped create lasting connections and memories. I would recommend FIRST to any student as it was an amazing experience that I am honored to have been a part of and people like you make it happen."

I usually have an old team video/photos on my ipod as well.

rsisk
11-24-2009, 01:06 PM
I usually start mine with:

"I am a mentor for a competitive high school robotics team"

That always seems to get their attention, because their response is typically to look at me and say "What??"

Then I get to roll into the pitch about FIRST robotics. A little bit of competition description, a lot of the inspiration angle, a laundry list of benefits for students/community/mentors etc.

Choose from one or more of the following:

Competition

Robot teams form alliances to accomplish a challenge. The alliances change each round to encourage "coopertition" (this one encourages further discussion about what coopertition is).
Imagine 50 teams of robotics students in a sports arena with all the glitz and glamour of a rock concert, its exciting, you have to experience it to believe it.
You can walk around the pits and talk with the students as they work on their robots. You never have meant a greater bunch of students, they are in their element and love to tell you all about it.


Inspiration

Its all about inspiring students in science and technology. Then, in a fake whisperThe robot competition is just a means to an end.
Its a pretty cool concept, bringing together students and mentors, giving them a challenge and common interest, and everyone becomes a winner.


Laundry List of Benefits

Its fun and inspiring
Great opportunity for project based learning
Another way to reach out to students that may have been left behind
It makes us all smarter


Of course we always carry tri-fold brochures with us to have a take away for the person. I'll link in the tri-fold later, once I get it up to CD-Media

RoboMom
11-24-2009, 01:51 PM
Forgive me if I’m repeating myself as this has come up in other posts re: FRC elevator speeches.

For the past 5 years, along with the Ambassador Coordinator I have trained “Student Ambassadors” at the Chesapeake Regional. I know this is done at many events, but believe this should be a formalized role at all the events. In fact, I would love to see a "training" offered at kickoff's and incorporated in more workshops for teams year round.

Student volunteers from any teams attending the event are gathered up and have a 1-2 hour training. The first part of the training is a mini-Toastmasters. Speaking up. Eye contact. Listening skills. Not playing with their hair. The elevator speech about themselves. The students sit in a semi-circle and are called on and are grilled. In a nice way. ;) These are the same skills the students need to interview for college and for jobs.

The second part is the elevator speech about FIRST. Students are given some background materials and get to practice. Then they sign up for times to escort VIP’s, school groups, and the public.

One of the best resources to help students explain FIRST is John Abele’s “The Psychology of the FIRST Experience.” http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/resourcecenter.aspx?id=952

I have gotten great feedback on this approach; from politicians, from the Supt. of Schools for Maryland and education community, and from the corporate world. There are students who discover they shine in this role. Some discover that even though they didn’t have a leadership role on the team or have a major role building the robot they do have a very important role to play at the Regional. I have some wonderful stories which I am happy to share on our next elevator ride.

From my experience, the very hardest audience for the elevator pitch is with the TV media, standing at an event with a mike in your face and noise everywhere. I’ve been lucky to get the words “robots, teamwork, partnerships, alliances, mentoring, scholarships, innovation, awards and gracious professionalism” into the pitch and leave a little time (very little) for whatever the game is that year.

Last year was a very difficult game for an elevator pitch.

RoboMom
11-24-2009, 01:58 PM
Then, in a fake whisperThe robot competition is just a means to an end.

Woodie describes the robot as "the campfire we all sit around."

Jon236
11-24-2009, 02:57 PM
Woodie describes the robot as "the campfire we all sit around."

Agreed....I like your idea of training sessions for the kids; it is something we need to emulate. If you have some training materials to post, that would be helpful.

My elevator pitch is something like "My real profession (I'm a physician) is working with FIRST. I get to help inspire kids to get involved with STEM in the US and in Israel with the moral foundation of Gracious Professionalism."

That gets a response "And how do you do that?" Then I describe "a robotic competition based on a new game every year which requires kids and mentors to figure out the game, design, build and test a robot that is roughly 2 x 3 x 5 feet and 120 pounds within a 6 week time limit. The competition requires random alliances of 3 robots to work together to compete against a similar alliance." I give the example of a Regional Final in Tel Aviv with an Arab team's robot pushing a Jewish team's robot up a ramp so the whole alliance wins. "The kids get it!"

That makes for a very effective elevator pitch!

JaneYoung
11-24-2009, 04:28 PM
It's been my experience when talking with FRC and FTC students, that they can readily and easily discuss the robot and the game. What they can struggle with and sometimes can't seem to do at all, is talk about the other aspects of the team and the FIRST program.

The students who have a much easier time talking about different aspects of the team, are the FLL students.

That's just an observation on my part, not a criticism.

Jane

Fe_Will
11-24-2009, 07:37 PM
"FIRST is an acronym: For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It's a non-profit workforce development program that challenges 4th-12th grade students to work as a team to design, build, and program a robot. This friendly co-opertition gets students excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math by giving them hands-on applications of what is being taught in the classroom. This year, Oregon will have over 4,000 students participating in FIRST and over 1,000 technology and manufacturing professionals will mentor teams." ;)

Roboj
11-24-2009, 08:51 PM
That's beautiful Fe_Will.

Things I like about it.

"FIRST is an acronym: For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Get's the key words "Inspiration" "Science and Technology" out there

This friendly co-opertition gets students excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math


Describes the higher purpose.


by giving them hands-on applications of what is being taught in the classroom.

Covers hands-on learning and that it compliments the classroom


This year, Oregon will have over 4,000 students participating in FIRST and over 1,000 technology and manufacturing professionals will mentor teams." ;)

Shows the impact... This isn't just a small thing. If you're talking to media, it gives them a sense of how this is a bigger story than just whatever they see in front of them. Also shows the amount of community involvement. (I personally would have added the worldwide numbers too to show that it's not an Oregon specific thing)

BrendanB
11-24-2009, 09:09 PM
It's been my experience when talking with FRC and FTC students, that they can readily and easily discuss the robot and the game. What they can struggle with and sometimes can't seem to do at all, is talk about the other aspects of the team and the FIRST program.

The students who have a much easier time talking about different aspects of the team, are the FLL students.

That's just an observation on my part, not a criticism.

Jane

Second. Our team has former FLL students present our Chairmans as they have prior experience presenting to the judges.

That is one of the few aspects of FLL that beats out FRC. With the required presentation and research FLL'rs have the ability to explain the entire program than FRC'rs can. And some of that is from FLL team being so small that all of the students have been involved with all of the parts on the team. Come to think of it, I could tell you more about Ocean Odysey in 2005 than Lunacy 2009.:rolleyes:

AHHH... now I miss FLL!

Phoenix Spud
11-24-2009, 09:51 PM
I can't say that I have an elevator (or as they are called here in Australia "lift") speech ready to go. It depends a bunch on the situation, and who I am talking to. Whoever I am talking to, I try to get in the major points that have been mentioned prior in this thread.

As a former FLLer, I agree that FLL helps you with public speaking more than FRC does. I think one of the reasons for this is that FLL is easier to explain. There are two reasons for this. One, you can have a demo of FLL going semi-easily all you need is a table and robot. While the table might be difficult to get to a location it is possible--or you can just bring a portable table!:D The other reason is that FRC is difficult to explain. I find myself rambling about alliances... and weight/height restrictions... and selection processes... and doing conversion from english to metric units... (I currently live in Australia) and explaining the size of the competition... and who Dean Kamen is... etc!

I have also found that it is harder to explain these things in a foreign country, since most people here have no concept of FIRST at all. Most people who I talked to in NH, had somewhat of a clue what FIRST was from the media attention GSR gets.

Fe_Will
11-25-2009, 01:23 AM
That's beautiful Fe_Will.



First of all, it's not my speech. It was written by Jodi Walder-Biesanz (Autodesk Oregon Regional Planning Committee) and Deb Mumm-Hill (Pacific NW Regional Director). I recieved it at the public speaking seminar held at FIRST Fare (http://www.oregonfirst.org/regional-event/firstfare-2009/) this past Halloween.

Secondly, I believe giving local stats gives the recipient a more manageable opportunity to join the cause. As a professional is it easier to see yourself as 1 in 1000 or 1 in 50,000?

Alivia
11-27-2009, 01:34 AM
My elevator pitch for FIRST has been tweaked throughout the years, and I've found this short sound byte has worked the best to get people interested and asking questions:

FIRST stands for, "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Basically, students work alongside engineers and other mentors to build a robot to compete in a given game each year."

One thing I dislike about this pitch is that it leaves out a HUGE chunk of people/jobs on a team, but to list off all the jobs and hard work that go into a FIRST team could potentially take days...which I'm totally not opposed to to, but this could leave a normal-non-robotics-obsessed person feeling overwhelmed and might lead to them not wanting to ask questions. :ahh:

Anywho, this one seems to work for me! :)

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

gblake
11-27-2009, 11:19 AM
I don't think I have read anything I would disagree with yet, but a couple of things do seem to have been omitted.

When I think of elevator/lift speeches, an opportunity win a convert who can contribute comes to mind. To quickly transform a casual bystander into an investor (of more time, if nothing elses) or a contributor, I think you need to express
1) A compelling need that is pertinent to the listener
2) A feasible way the listener can shift resources to satisfy the need

The need can be keeping kids off the street at night. The need can be putting STEM students into the educational pipeline so that large (and small)businesses/industries/schools don't implode 10 years from now. The need can be giving someone a satisfying hobby. The need can be improving chances at a scholarship.

The resource shift can be converting unused space into a team's build season workshop. The shift can be converting a night of TV watching into a night of teaching students about a STEM topic. The shift can be donating money. The shift can be taking the time to sponsor legislation voters will applaud.

Do your best to assess your audience. Put these two bookends around the other messages in this thread, and then go for it (but don't be too heavy-handed). For the programs to continue growing, we have to continue recruiting people and the resources they can offer. After an elevator speech, your audience should know explicitly why and how they should help.

Blake

RoboMom
11-28-2009, 11:44 AM
Agreed....I like your idea of training sessions for the kids; it is something we need to emulate. If you have some training materials to post, that would be helpful.

Happy to share examples of materials for training Student Ambassadors. Since many of the components change each year, I don't think it is useful to post them in the white papers.
But I can forward on sample materials to anyone if you send me a PM with your email.

RoboMom
12-16-2009, 04:53 PM
There is a terrific event happening in Baltimore tonight. Talk about real world experience and why you should spend the time perfecting your elevator pitch!
The Maryland Tech Crawl
http://mdtechcrawl.com/

JohnBoucher
02-24-2010, 07:41 AM
One of the blogs I read has a great article on the elevator pitch.
Dumb Little Man (http://www.dumblittleman.com/2007/08/how-to-craft-killer-elevator-pitch-that.html)

Now that robots have shipped, it's time to pratice your elevator pitch for the judges. You need to grab the judges attention. Pratice that 30 second intro about the team and why your robot is the best at the regional. Select a talking point about your robot that will set you apart. The last thing you need to do is pratice, pratice and pratice.

rsisk
02-24-2010, 11:17 AM
One of my favorite questions to ask teams in the pits:

What does FIRST mean to you?


You would be amazed at how many blanks stares I get in return.

Anyone on the team should be able to respond to this question and finding an elevator pitch on this thread is a really good place to start.

We are doing judge training for our teams this weekend. We ask the students the kind of questions they might be asked by a judge in the pits. We explain to them why the judges are there and we will go over the awards being judged. It is simple to do and will really make your team shine when the judges come by.

Good luck teams!

RoboMom
06-16-2010, 12:20 PM
From Ignite RailsConf in Baltimore.

Ignite events are lightning talks, where 16 speakers each get 5 minutes to talk about a subject they are passionate about, but with a twist: the speaker's slides are automatically advanced every 15 seconds. Ignite's motto is "enlighten us, but be quick about it!"

Here's Joshua Baer's talk, "Five Secrets to a Killer Elevator Pitch" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEd0fjXsk8w