Most of us are so close to our work that it’s sometimes difficult to explain to someone else without rambling on for minutes. We get asked about our company or job and we start spewing out all kinds of arcane details and ancillary thoughts that the person likely doesn’t understand or care about.
And then we hear the inevitable responses, “Could you explain that again?” or “Okaaaay…now can you give me the short version?”
Being succinct isn’t a skill everyone is born with, especially when we need to explain complex concepts and ideas. That’s why we need to consciously weed out all the extra stuff our audience doesn’t want to know. This applies to what we commonly refer to as an “elevator pitch.”
(In case you aren’t familiar with that term, an elevator pitch is essentially the short amount of time you have to share your message with someone while riding in an elevator before you or they exit.)
There are many different ways to create an elevator pitch. But some of the more formalized approaches that come out of business schools or branding/strategy companies can be a bit overwhelming for novices. In a word, it’s very easy to “overthink” it.
Having worked on a variety of elevator pitches over the years, I recently saw what seemed to be good, common sense approach for people that just need to quickly summarize their thoughts. In the article, Marketing Consultant Robert McAnderson explains his approach as beginning with “Well, you know how…<insert a problem your typical client has> and <the benefit they get from you>.
One of his examples: “You know how many small business owners don’t have a receptionist and divert their phone to voicemail when they are in a meeting? Well, we handle all their calls and make sure they never miss an important business opportunity again.”
Granted, this simplified approach is probably more effective in a live conversation than in a written description. But it’s an easy framework for summarizing your thoughts and helping your audience quickly understand what you want to communicate.
After all, an elevator pitch is really about forcing choice: You can’t include everything, so you need to force yourself to include only what your audience needs to hear in the simplest way possible.
If you’re already comfortable creating a full-blown elevator pitch, this approach might not be for you. But if you just need a quick way to answer questions about your job, product, or project, you might want to give this method a try the next time someone asks.