Many leaders in their organization do not have time to fit one-hour meeting blocks in their busy schedule and sometimes 30 minutes for one meeting would be considered too much for them. These leaders, or shall I say their Personal Assistants, try to fit in as many meetings and teleconferences as possible in the daily schedule because everyone wants their attention! I'm exaggerating a little here, but the point is, their days are usually scheduled well in advance with one meeting after another and in my experience it’s impossible to squeeze in even a 15-min meeting at the last minute. I was always told that if you want an urgent meeting with so and so, go to his (usually a man in my case) Personal Assistant to schedule one because she (usually a woman in my case) knows his schedule well, she’ll be able to squeeze you in or shift some other appointments to fit you in if it is urgent.
Again, to all of us, everything is urgent especially when things get escalated to our bosses. When that happens the bosses need to be briefed before replying to that email or making that phone call or even attend that meeting to resolve it or calm things down. What I have seen happened many times is that the person who is most familiar with the situation would be the person to brief the boss, or maybe the second most familiar person has the 'honor' to do that. What I’ve noticed is that when we are on this side to tell the story we sometimes forget who is on the other side, meaning we forget who the audience is. Worst thing of all is that we thought by giving out more information, the better understanding our bosses will have of the situation. But this is totally the opposite. In this case, less is more. Our bosses usually don’t have the time nor the patience to listen to the whole story and most of all, they have been trained to pick out keywords to make a conclusion at the end. I have seen this happen first hand where my boss was sketching a map of the whole story, which I thought was a little complicated because the person who gave that summary, in my view, wasn’t really giving a summary but the whole story about what happened the last 2 years. At the end of the 10-minute summary my boss was able to summarize it in 30 seconds according to his sketch. And guess what, he asked for a 30-second 'elevator pitch' summary, instead he patiently waited for 10 minutes to make up his 30-second summary.
Conclusion is: Perfect your 30-second 'elevator pitch' summary.
Your 30-second summary should contain keywords and all the other details which you thought were important should be eliminated. The most effective way is to map out the summary yourself in order to construct the sentences. After that, practice, practice and practice until it becomes natural to you. Once you have done it a couple of times, you will soon be able to summarize from your map directly.
So next time when you have a crisis that need higher level attention, map out your thoughts to condense your pitch and get your message across effectively.