About Elevator Speech Training

Elevator Speech Training (EST) helps professionals communicate better in situations that are important to them, for example, when they raise money, interview for a job, or talk about their project or organization. EST is conducted one-on-one and by video call. Participants often find that just a single 60-minute training session produces results that are more useful than days or even weeks of conventional training.

“This one-hour session was more impactful than weeks I have spent in other communications trainings.”
Dan Nissenbaum, CEO, Low Income Investment Fund

Most nonprofit executives never practice how they talk about their work, especially for situations in which they have only minutes or seconds to make an impression (for example, during round-robin introductions on a Zoom conference panel, or during the proverbial encounter with an important person inside an elevator). Their pitches often lack urgency, specificity, and emotion. As a result, most nonprofit leaders do not communicate as effectively as they could and need to, especially in today’s climate of increased competition for attention, support, and funding.

EST uses a framework-based approach to help participants increase urgency, specificity, and emotion. Participants experience the aha moments of simple but powerful changes that they can immediately put to use in all their communication going forward. An example is using more sentences that begin with “for example” to increase specificity.

During this time of added stresses from the pandemic, clients have called the training not only “incredibly useful” but also “light-hearted” and “emotionally supportive.”

EST conducts in-depth research to customize each session for the client. Post-training follow-up includes a survey and an email with a recap of key takeaways, links to the recorded video, feedback on revised scripts, and more. 75% of clients rate their training experience “exceptionally useful” and 25% “very useful.”

EST has worked with grantees from well-known philanthropies in a diverse number of issue areas, for example:

  • Arts (John S. and James L. Knight Foundation)
  • Civic engagement (Carnegie Corporation of New York)
  • Environmental justice (JPB Foundation)
  • Immigrant rights (Carnegie / JPB)
  • International peace and security (Carnegie)
  • Judicial independence (Piper Fund)
  • Poverty (JPB)
  • Public health (JPB)

EST can customize the training quickly to new subject areas.

“I had no idea so much could be done in just one hour!”
Heather Ferguson, Executive Director, Common Cause New Mexico

Participants can be invited in just one group email message that EST provides.

Participants complete a survey immediately after the training and a second one three months later. A project dashboard for funders provides information about who has completed the training and the feedback given.

Appointment wait times currently exceed six months. Upon purchase of a training package, EST enables participants to advance-reserve the nearest available appointment slots. Priority time slots are available for participants who need a training immediately.

501(c)(3) STATUS
EST is a 501(c)(3) project housed at NEO Philanthropy of New York City.

“In a short hour I went from a decent pitch to a targeted, clear, well focused ask.”
Joshua Ginsberg, President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

EST was founded by Marc Fest, a former journalist and a former vice president of communications for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the New World Symphony.

Marc Fest

Marc Fest

Marc has also created MessageHouse.org, a communications tool used by businesses, non-profits, governments and individuals around the world.

His work as a coach is close to Marc’s heart since he himself had a speech impediment until the age of about six. A speech therapist eventually helped him, over the course of just six months, overcome the issue. Says Marc: “Ever since then the ability to express myself clearly has been special to me.”

Marc does his coaching work from a remote farm in the Everglades where he lives with his Belgian shepherd dog Zeus. You can read the story behind EST  at www.est.io/story.

More importantly, Zeus has his own online presence at www.SeeMyDog.com.