NOTE: For the purpose of this article, I will use speech in place of pitch as the idea of “pitching” Freemasonry is not strictly in keeping with the ideals of Freemasonry.
In last week’s article about setting up a booth for a festival/fair, I talked about working with your team of event volunteers that will “man” the booth on having an elevator speech. I took a bit of heat for not going more into this topic – but wanted to save it for a longer article. This is that article.
Put yourself in these shoes. You have just finished lunch at your first Annual Communications of Grand Lodge; in fact, you were just raised not one month before. You get on the elevator to go back up to the meeting room; you are the only person in there and as the door begins to shut a hand reaches in and pops the door back open. It is the Grand Master of Masons, a brother you have never met and the presiding officer for this large meeting.
Seeing that you are a younger brother and understanding the stature of his office, the Grand Master breaks the ice, “Good Afternoon Brother, how was lunch?”
You answer back that it was good, and you sneak in this line “This is my first time here, in fact, I was just raised last month.”
The Grand Master looks back at you and says, “That is wonderful – why did you join?”
You’ve probably heard this before, but this scenario (or one like it) is the idea behind an elevator speech and anything can put you in this situation. From the above unlikely story to the more common question that you get when wearing a square and compass logo out in public.
The goal is to quickly and compellingly deliver a message to answer “why,” but why what?
Please share your draft with us in the comments below!
Pull out a pen and a paper and start answering these questions (along with some thought starters):
Part 1: What does Freemasonry MEAN to me?
o An “official” definition - Freemasonry unites men of good character of different religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds, who share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.
o A philosophical definition – Freemasonry is an allegorical portrayal based upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The body of knowledge and system of ethics is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself, while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
o A historic definition – Early operative masons were responsible for many unbelievable architectural marvels which were surrounded by an air of mystery to their method of construction. These operative masons had arranged themselves into a series of craft guilds. These craft guilds, at that time, and some still today, base their history on an allegorical story. From these origins, wealthier men were eventually allowed into to the operative guilds to celebrate the ritual storytelling. From these speculative masons came the Freemasons of today.
o A personal definition – I really looked up to my grandfather, especially how he handled himself and his life. He died before I was old enough to understand why, but I knew from conversations within the family that his involvement in Freemasonry was likely a large part of how he shaped these parts of his life.
Part 2: How I found my mother lodge
o Everyone’s story is a bit different here, but it likely follows some flow of becoming curious & aware, learning, seeking, bonding, asking, and initiation.
NOTE – this is usually where I toss in the “To Be One Ask One” concept. This is an important thing to say as there is a lot of misinformation on this point.
o My story: When I was a student at Purdue, I became curious about what Freemasonry was, I knew of several guys who were members – but none directly. I checked some books out on it and read some on the internet. It was a bit challenging distilling the truth from the fiction – but eventually I came to the decision that I wanted to join. After going to the local lodge in Lafayette a couple times to find the doors locked and the building empty with no real sign (that I could find) of the meeting dates, I stopped by the Grand Lodge building in Indianapolis next time I was home. Here I talked with a man who gave the contact information for the lodge. I spent a couple Thursdays at the lodge getting to know the guys, eating, and playing euchre. Finally, having learned that I must ask to join, I petitioned the lodge and was elected to join.
Part 3 – The Opening (of the elevator door)
o This section has some variability on it depending on the purpose of your conversation.
§ At a Booth or in public talking with a potential member - consider working on determining what their level of interest is and take a step to help them along their journey (think curious & aware, learning, seeking, bonding, asking, and initiation)
§ Talking to a woman about masonry – talk about benefits of enriching your personal “real life” social network and the opportunity to discuss aspects of what it means to be a man with a group of great men and there are opportunities within appendant organizations for women and children.
§ With another brother (even the Grand Master) – talk about your freemason highlights but don’t let this turn into a narcissistic brag fest of offices held or honors obtained – focus on what you have learned and how Freemasonry has impacted your life, values, and potentially views on community involvement / philanthropy.
Part 4 – Reciprocate
o So after the elevator speech is done, you have an unwritten obligation to mirror the question back to the questioner.
At the end of the day, this is my view on how to be prepared to fill your need for a Freemasonry elevator speech. The goal isn’t to sell someone on the craft, to win merit points with a brother who wears the purple of the fraternity, or to convince a woman that we are not a bunch of oppressive men trying to keep the good old boys network running. The goal is to start a conversation that lasts after the doors open.