Going UP? What’s your PE Elevator Speech?

I was recently challenged to come up with an effective physical education “elevator pitch.” What would I say in a brief twenty to sixty second speech – the time it takes an elevator to travel 4-5 floors – summarizing what physical education is and why it’s important?

People often ask me, “What do you do for a living?” This is the perfect elevator speech opening! If you’ve taught physical education for a while you know that when you tell people you teach physical education, they immediately reference their own physical education experiences either as a child or as a parent. Sadly, these experiences don’t always reflect positively or even accurately what’s happening in today’s quality physical education programs.

So, when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?” we all need to recognize that we’ve just been given the perfect setup for an elevator pitch to highlight the merits of physical education. What will you say? The success of your pitch depends on your ability to explain what makes physical education important, and in less than a minute, hook your listener.

To engage my listener and emphasize the importance of our profession, I’ve learned to begin my elevator speech by stating the goal of physical education. I begin with the phrase, “I teach children to move skillfully with confidence in a wide variety of activities, and how to stay healthy and physically active for the rest of their lives.” I’ve memorized this phrase and it serves as my hook.

In casual conversations with people who are not educators, I chose not to use the term “physically literate” because it’s a term that requires me to clarify what I mean. Remember, you only have 30-60 seconds to capture or lose their interest! If the conversation lasts longer, I will often introduce the term physically literate. But if I do it too soon and listeners are not familiar with the phrase I risk losing their attention. I also chose not to lead off with “I’m a physical education teacher” because my main goal is to sell the value of physical education, not my job and the misconceptions some people associate with it.

After telling people the goal of physical education I like to tell people why it’s so important and worth valuing. I want them to understand how what I do solves an important problem in today’s world. I’ve learned that all listeners are familiar with the importance of problem solving and intrigued to hear more. Here’s my approach and how I might explain it:

Problem: As you probably know, almost half of American adults are not active enough to achieve health benefits.

Solution: I think that we can change this trend through providing every child a quality physical education experience.

Details of solution: I have my students explore a wide variety of activities with the goal of guiding each child to discover their own personal physical activity interests. In quality physical education programs, children learn fundamental movement skills, set fitness and physical activity goals, and create personal fitness plans while developing an understanding of the wonderful benefits that come with leading a physically active life. Through inclusive and engaging activities, my students develop a joy of moving and the skills they will need to maintain an active lifestyle into old age.

Summary: I prepare today’s children with the knowledge, skills and motivation to be tomorrow’s healthy adults.”

So, after multiple edits, deleting entire sentences, and cutting educational jargon, I now have what I’ve found to be a good start to my elevator pitch. I can see this physical education pitch will be something I continue to revise and update. I think if I had to cut it to 10 seconds I could just state the summary sentence. Now, I just need to work on being confident enough to actually try it out the next time I’m in an elevator!

“I teach children to move skillfully with confidence in a wide variety of activities, and how to stay healthy and physically active for the rest of their lives. As you probably know, almost half of American adults are not active enough to achieve health benefits.  I think we can change this trend through providing every child a quality physical education experience. I have my students explore a wide variety of activities with the goal of guiding each child to discover their own personal physical activity interests. In quality physical education programs, children learn fundamental movement skills, set fitness and physical activity goals, and create personal fitness plans while developing an understanding of the wonderful benefits that come with leading a physically active life. Through inclusive and engaging activities, my students develop a joy of moving and the skills they will need to maintain an active lifestyle into old age.  I prepare today’s children with the knowledge, skills and motivation to be tomorrow’s healthy adults.”

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50 MILLION STRONG BY 2029 NATIONAL FORUM @ 2017 BOSTON CONVENTION

The national 50 Million Strong by 2029 forum at the 2017 Boston Convention now has more than 400 pre-registerd participants and due to space limitations registration is  closed.  Be sure to follow the conversation about advancing SHAPE America's commitment to prepare students with the skills, knowledge, confidence, and motivation to lead healthy and physically active lives. A live Facebook feed will be broadcast during the forum. If you are not attending, be sure to follow on Facebook and share your comments. See you in Boston, March 14th 1:00 - 5:00 pm!
4 Comments
  1. If I were asked that question, and had the same time constraint within which to respond, I would say: “I vaccinate children against becoming victims of ignorance and the plethora of fitness and diet purveyors seeking to separate them from their hard-earned money. The cure for ignorance is knowledge. That is what I teach.

  2. Quality physical education can be close to a panacea for most chronic diseases, as early intervention to what could later become irreversible in adult life; educating children about being able to enjoy an active life is the epitome of what we ought to be doing!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Great ideas and inspiration for each of us to have a thoughtful and concise answer ready. One that is meaningful and easy for individuals to understand.

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