This week, I am in Asheville, North Carolina at a retreat with my business coach. Which means four days of me reconnecting with others in the program, reminding them of what my focus is and introducing myself to the new folks just joining the fold.
Next week, I am launching my first round of Have Them At Hello: Craft Your Most Authentic Introduction workshops. (On September 20, to be exact.)
Which seemed like two good reasons to update and reshare this blog post, When You’re Trapped In An Elevator. After all, elevator speeches may be passe, but we’ve all got to introduce ourselves!
What do you love — or hate — about your elevator pitch… I mean… your intro?
"No one ever bought anything in an elevator." -- Seth Godin
"Elevator pitches are dead." -- Dan Pink
"Most elevator pitches are lame." -- Christine Kane
Three of my most frequently read authors and thinkers (including my own business coach!) don't have a lot nice things to say about elevator pitches. In their words, they're essentially useless, dead and lame.
And yet I am resurrecting my elevator pitch workshop.
Because I am... crazy? stuck in the past? defiant?
Nope. None of those.
I am resurrecting the workshop because, like you, I regularly go to networking events and watch people struggle to introduce themselves in a natural, interesting way. A way that gives me a picture of what they do, doesn't make my eyes glaze over and won't have me pulling a muscle trying to not roll my eyes.
Plus, we need a way to differentiate ourselves.
Most of us work in fields crowded teeming with other executive coaches, designers, recruiters, consultants. Seriously, I can’t swing a dead cat at most gatherings and not hit another person focusing on messaging either as a writer or an editor (though fortunately for me, there are far fewer content coaches focused on making you a better writer for your business.)
Seth, Dan and Christine make some good points. Your first encounter with someone will not lead directly to a sale. A cheerleader-y, formulaic and ultimately robotic monologue you spew at people will not help your business. Your title alone doesn't help people understand if or how you can help solve the problem they're facing.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't use every opportunity you have to position yourself and what you do. Having your best possible pitch or intro at your fingertips (tongue tip?) and ready to deliver can save the day.
Here are three ways to approach writing your pitch or intro. We go deeper and get our hands dirty doing this work in the workshop, but the quick version is:
Adjust Your Thinking
When crafting any content about yourself and your business, it helps to have the right mindset. Your introduction is important, but it's not the be-all, end-all of your messaging. It shouldn't be constructed to tell your entire story from the dawn of time.
I like to think of it more as an amuse bouche -- those complimentary, bite-sized appetizers some restaurants offer when you're first seated at the table. It's just a nibble, and a sign of things to come.
Cherry Pick Key Words From Your Core Message
Your pitch is all about fitting the core of your message into your introduction. Core messages are the repeated words and phrases that paint a picture of who you are and what you do. You can try writing individual ideas from your core message on separate index cards or Post It Notes then shuffling them around into something that might be a pitch.
Caution: Words you use as your title -- coach, consultant, designer, recruiter, strategist -- may feel like the key words of your core message but they're not. They're the rough sketch (at best), not the painting.
Talk To Yourself Until You Sound Like You
That perfect pitch you craft on paper might actually end up being a terrible spoken pitch. This happens more than you think because the way we write and the way we speak are two different things.
Say what you wrote out loud and tweak it so it sounds as good as it reads. Record yourself saying it. Make a video of yourself saying it to see if your body language is agreeing with your message. You have to practice it so it will sound natural, human and like you actually believe it!
There are tons of tips, tactics and approaches out there to help you craft your not-an-elevator-pitch. I've given you three, and pointed you to the very smart thinking of three other people in the opening of this post!
You could write it today.
If you’d like some support, editing and no-stress, no-stakes practice time, join us on the 20th in the Have Them At Hello: Craft Your Most Authentic Introduction Workshop.
The elevator pitch trope may be passe but being able to give potential clients a snapshot of who you are and what you offer when you meet them will never be.