Skip the elevator pitch. What’s your sentence?

January 20th, 2010
woman wondering

Witness the endless search for the perfect elevator pitch: A Google search coughs up 549,000 results; Bing goes for 2.04 million! But here’s the hitch: The get-to-the-point tempo of our business conversations makes people antsy. Unless you’ve hooked someone’s attention in those first few seconds, your carefully scripted spiel may go unheard. There’s hope, yet. What about the first few words that tumble from your mouth when faced with that proverbial ice-breaker:

“What do you do?”

As Daniel Pink notes in his new book about motivation, it’s all about figuring out what’s driving you. He asks: WHAT’S YOUR SENTENCE? Well, that’s not so easy, you snort. Think again. The way I see it, “What do you do?” is really three questions in one. Consider the answers to all three to help you build YOUR SENTENCE:

  • What do you do?
  • Why do you do it?
  • How does it make a difference?

I know I’ve botched this in the past. “What do you do?” I’ve been asked at networking functions. “I’m a communications consultant.” Pause. “Oh, so you fix phone systems?”  Oops.  Let’s take another look. A CEO answers the question as part of a marketing presentation.

“We manage an artisanal brand that is ‘found’ by people who appreciate the quality of our product.” YES!

A stay-at-home mom chats with a stranger at a cocktail party.

“I’m raising the next generation.” BINGO!

When someone asks “What do you do?” take the opportunity to respond with a sentence that represents your passion and impact. Move like a kick-boxer. Sway and jab. Don’t just answer the question. Surprise them with a verbal punch that brings them back for more. Footnote #1: Listed #5 in the 64 books on elevator pitches in is one of my all-time faves: How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less. The book was written in 1990. We may have only 10 seconds or less to snare someone’s attention these days, but Milo Frank’s thinking is timeless. Footnote#2: What do I do?  I help organizations get their story straight!

Posted January 20th, 2010

Author: Categories: Branding, Message Development Tags:
  1. December 14th, 2010 at 08:56 | #1


    Very helpful! Thanks!

    Janice Sears

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