Dealing with The Deadly “What do You do?” Question: Do You Have an Elevator Pitch Ready?

written by Ivan Widjaya on January 10, 2013 in Tips with 2 comments

Here’s a confession to you: I was always having a hard time explaining what I do for a living. It’s not that I am doing something extraordinary; the truth is, it’s often difficult to explain the tech stuffs I do to non-techie… then it hit me: I didn’t really have an elevator pitch!

elevator pitch

When someone is asking me my line of work, I answered them with a short 2 to 3 seconds of “ummm… well…” … then I blurb some silly stuff trying to explain what my business is all about. There are numerous times I answer with “well, it’s hard to explain.” I know… it’s pretty lame.

I wonder, how many business opportunities I have lost just because I can’t explain what I am doing. So, this blog post is all about helping you come up with a decent elevator pitch that you can refine along the way later on.

First thing first: What is “elevator pitch”?

I’m sure some of you scratch your head and say, “Huh?” when you heard about the term “elevator pitch.” What is it anyway, you think…

Here’s a great one-sentence explanation in plain-English from Wikipedia: The name “Elevator Pitch” reflects the 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.

In other words, you must achieve your goal – making people understand what you are doing – in 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Of course, an elevator pitch can be less than 30 seconds or more than 2 minutes. The idea is for you to get your message across without losing your audience’s interest.

Why is this kind of pitch important?

When someone asks you, “What do you do?” Your typical answer might be “I am a blogger”… “I am a business owner”… “I am a sailor”… and such.

Those basic answers are never enough; so, unless you have no interest in conversing with that person, you need to stir interest and promote conversation. Business-wise, this is particularly important when you are doing business networking or pitching your ideas to potential investors.

You don’t want to answer with “Um… well… I am a mobile app developer who… well… build apps?” D-uh. You are most probably losing potential client(s)!

How to create one?

While I see an elevator pitch as a form of art, there are actually some resources I would like to recommend you to access.

Guides

If you want some basics, I suggest you this article from About.com. It’s pretty straightforward, and you’ll soon get an idea in writing one in no time.

Of course, you might want a second opinion: Try this guide from Inc.com.

Need a video to make things clearer? Here’s one of the best in explaining about elevator pitch…

Web tools

If you need any help, no worries – there are actually free web tools you can use to craft an effective elevator pitch. If you are looking for one, I strongly recommend you Harvard Business School (HBS)’s Elevator Pitch Builder.

According to the HBS Alumni Career Services, mastering “the art of pitchcraft” (love it!) is important for your to raise capital, promoting your business or promoting yourself. You have one minute to say it all!

Using the tool is really simple: Just follow through the recommended action, and you’ll get there. I, in fact, have built my elevator pitch using HBS’ elevator pitch generator.

Check it out:

I run business blogs and make money online working from home. I build income-generating business blogs – and can help you to do the same. The emphasis of my service is outsourcing and automation, allowing you to focus on growing your business blog’s audience and profits. I can help you to start and manage an authoritative business blog in just 30 days.

Well, according to the tool, my elevator pitch is 16 seconds long. Pretty good, eh?

Further reading

Takeaway

Elevator pitch is often underrated. I’ve personally lost plenty of opportunities by blurting some nonsense when someone ask me the “what do you do?” question.

If you are starting to realize the fact that your 1 minute pitch could potentially change your life forever, then you need to sit down and start crafting your pitch – today.

So, what do you do? Please share your elevator pitch with us!


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