The Power of the Personal Rant

I will make almost any excuse to get on my soap box. In fact, I am a master at making mountains of mole hills. For years and years, these skills were only really useful for driving my parents crazy. But recently, I learned to harness this energy to create my own powerful and infamous “peanut rant.”

Though this elaborate elevator speech of mine is constantly evolving, it essentially boils down to this simple fact: high-fat legumes are well suited to meet the nutrition needs of severely malnourished children and they are easy to grow in African agricultural communities. This food staple could lead to real economic development in agricultural communities across the African continent.

Though I cannot say that I have ever shared the wonders of ground nuts with a stranger in an elevator, I have used the “peanut rant” to build my personal brand in my career. An elevator speech should be more than just a laundry list of why you are wonderful. Instead, it should show your audience why you would be perfect for a position, career, or partnership. So how do you build your own killer introductory rant?

1. Pick a subject you care about Take some time to figure out WHY you want to work for a nonprofit. Read the organization’s mission statement. Go over college notes. Leaf through your journal or troll your old blog. We all have something that gets us fired up about our work, so identify your inspiration as a foundation for your speech.

Remember, it is easier to convey a story or lesson about a specific subject, so do not be afraid to isolate just one thing you see as important. Your audience is more likely to see you as detail-oriented than tunnel-visioned if you focus on one topic. They will understand that your proverbial elevator ride is too short for you to tell them all of the things that you know.

2. Do your research Once you have figured out what you are passionate about, your next task is to convince others of why it is important. Gather facts, figures, and anecdotes that show the difference that your interest makes. Providing convincing evidence for the importance of your rant will illustrate to colleagues and potential connections your willingness to work hard and your ability to make abstract ideas more concrete. Showing this through a well-supported elevator speech will help you gain more credibility than telling someone that you are “a big picture person” or that you have a “great work ethic.”

3. Make yourself some talking points Like any other speech, your personal rant should have a clear objective. Organize your thoughts so you can teach your audience something new. The next time they see a great transit map, a reusable travel mug, or whatever it is that you see as a catalyst for change, they will think of you!

4. Practice Give your speech to all of your friends and family members. By practicing, you can figure out what impresses or falls flat and you can become more comfortable articulating your thoughts. The more you say your speech, the more comfortable you will be with presenting it to people that you do not know.

5. Share your expertise Now that you have your elevator speech developed, share it! Every time you drop off a resume, attend a YNPN happy hour, or chat with someone in line at the bank, you can make a name for yourself. You will start to see the benefits as people begin to identify you with your “rant” and you will build your own brand!

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