I recently traveled to Southern California to visit my sister and her family. While there, I met some of her friends who also have preschool-age children. As we were walking back to the car after school, one of them asked me what I did. “Oh, Montessori. I’ve heard of that,” she responded. “How is that different from our preschool?”
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? You could talk about Montessori all day, but how do you condense everything you want to say about such a rich subject into just a small sound bite and do it justice? Better yet, how do you speak intelligently enough to pique the interest of those who are unaware of Dr. Montessori’s philosophy and method of education? How can you quickly capture the interest of parents at your school’s open house, for instance, and convey all that Montessori has to offer their children?
Building Links in Your Community: Talking About Montessori
The elevator talk
This is when it is handy to have an elevator talk prepared. An elevator talk is a concise and very brief overview used by people to inform others about themselves, their ideas, or their product. It is a common format used by professionals for the purpose of networking and delivering their main message about their organization, product, or service. A practiced and polished speech that is about 30–120 seconds in length, or about 200 words, the elevator speech is a summary that defines the value(s) of your organization and get your point across quickly. Its main purpose is to deliver information to interested parties you meet by chance. If you are lucky, your audience will find your information interesting and continue the conversation, giving you a chance to expand on the points that interest them most.
Crafting your Montessori elevator talk requires some reflection about the core values of Montessori. Once you have outlined the things that you feel are important about Montessori, follow these steps to write your talk:
1. Know your audience. Are you speaking to a group of interested parents? A conventional teacher? Or a stranger you meet on a plane? Targeting your elevator talk personalizes your interaction. A one-size-fits-all generic approach will not work.
2. Identify your goal. What is it you want to explain to your audience? What makes Montessori unique? What is the most important point you want your audience to take away from your talk.
3. Outline your talk. Answer the following questions using brief notes:
- a. Who was Maria Montessori?
- b. What does Montessori education offer?
- c. How does Montessori education differ from conventional education?
- d. Why do you recommend Montessori?
- e. What do you want your listener to do as a result of your talk?
4. Finalize and practice your talk. You certainly don’t want to waste your precious time stumbling and trying to remember your talk. Polish your speech until it shines! Record yourself and play it back. Was your talk clear? Was it memorable? If you didn't know anything about Montessori, would you be interested in finding out more after listening to this speech?
A well thought out and polished Montessori elevator talk will be beneficial when talking to strangers, prospective families, or visitors to your school. Once you have completed your Montessori elevator talk, please share it with us. We would love to hear it!
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, January 10, 2014.