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Do you have a ham radio elevator pitch ready to be delivered on a moments notice? You're walking toward your car in the company of someone you just met. You casually mention youíre a ham radio operator. Your companion asked, "What is ham radio all about?" Enter the elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event, and its value proposition. Wikipedia defines 'elevator pitch' as "Öthe idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting. A variety of people, project managers, salespeople, evangelists and policy-makers commonly rehearse and use elevator pitches to get their points across quickly."
Why does ham radio exist? Your answer to this question might elicit, "hams frequently provide communications when all forms of commercial communications are unavailable, such as in natural or man-made disasters." Getting to the crux of the ham radio mystique you continue, ham radio is many things to many people, which is a great starting line in your pitch.
Donít try to be all things to all people, stick with the aspects of ham radio you enjoy and have passion and expertise. If youíre a DXer, tell the story of why youíre a DXer, do not try and explain the allure of VHFing, contesting, or moon bounce.
Ham radio primarily exist because hams frequently provide emergency communications when commercial forms of communications are unavailable, such as in natural or man-made disasters.
The great thing about ham radio is that it is many different things to many different people. My favorite ham radio activity is what we call DXing. DX was originally meant contacting distant stations. Now DXing is the pursuit of contacts with countries you havenít previously worked.
I first became interested in DX when I was about 15 years old when I was asked by a marine in Guantanamo Bay Cuba to relay a message to his family in New York City. His wife had just presented them with a brand new granddaughter. This was my first contact outside the United States other than Canada.
A few weeks later I woke up one night about 3 AM with a painful toothache, I turned on my equipment to see if anyone was on the air at this hour. At this point, I had never contacted a station west of the Mississippi River. Without touching any of the dials there was a station in Arizona calling CQ which meant he was seeking a contact with anyone. With trepidation, I called him and back he came. After our contact, I was tuning around and there was a station in Washington state. A contact with him was followed by a contact with California. I was so excited I totally forgot my toothache.
On that glorious night I learned that long distance communications, on the band I was using, was only possible when both ends of the communications path are in darkness, much like the AM broadcast band. Once I absorbed that propagation reality I started getting up a three AM to get on the air. Within a short time, I had added six new states as well as Hawaii, Venezuela, New Zealand, and Australia. I was hooked and Iíve been a DXer ever since.
Over the ensuing decades, I have now contacted every country in the world except North Korea and they donít allow ham radio.
When developing your elevator pitch be yourself, it will help you memorize your pitch. Then, practice practice, and practice. When you think you have it down pat, practice a little more. Remembering back to the definition of an elevator pitch, it should be deliverable in between 30 seconds and two minutes total time. Practice your pitch at various intervals. Learn what can be taken out and what must remain. The goal is to make it sound completely spontaneous and not rehearsed. It reminds of a sign that was hanging in a financial research department that I managed, "Sincerity is very important around here, once you learn how to fake it you have it made."
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