I spend a lot of time trying to convince the people I work with that they have inspiring story to share. When asked about inspiring storytellers, many think immediately of Oprah Winfrey. But you don’t have to be Oprah to elevate your passion and purpose. She might have a very loud megaphone, but you’ve got authenticity, experience, and passion on your side. These are important qualities that you should not sell short. So, if you're reading this, I'm going to go ahead and give you a friendly little push; you're more than ready to tell your story. Use your authenticity, experience, and passion!Read More
So, we know an elevator pitch needs to be short. A minute or less, ideally. Does that sound all but impossible? I work with lots of mission-driven individuals who are so passionate about their work, and they want to share everything about what they’re doing. And it’s tempting – if you capture someone’s time, shouldn’t you take advantage of it? But I promise, creating a captivating and short elevator pitch is going to serve you much better.
Easier said than done? Here are a few tips to help you pare back your words.
Use adjectives sparingly.
We believe our stories are the very best – and they are. But glorifying them with a plethora of floral adjectives does not do your pitch due justice. It’s easy to lose your listener in a sea of descriptive sentences. To boot, being overly effusive about your work can be a red flag to some, who may take you less seriously as a result.
These last three sentences include several adjectives. Too many for an elevator pitch. So when you’ve written your pitch, take a closer look and prune it – it will serve you well on length and approachability.
Use simple verbs
It’s really tempting to use complex verbs when you’re writing something for public speaking. You want to sound smart, so complexity is a good idea, right? Wrong. Simple is better, and not just because it helps you keep your elevator pitch short. It also allows the listener to follow what you’re saying; with longer verbs, you run the risk of losing someone along the way.
Here are a few verbs that are overused in the mission-driven industry. If you find yourself using them, think about whether the simpler option could be more direct. And I know you might say: I’ve used the word influence already – I need a synonym! No, if you’re in your elevator pitch and you’re saying influence more than once, you’re probably repeating the same idea too many times. Remember, keep it short, and keep the listener with you!
- leverage – instead of influence
- utilize – instead of use
- seed – instead of start
- catalyze – instead of make
- galvanize – instead of inspire action
Cut out phrases like “This allows us to” and “in order to.”
They’re often just filler and don’t add anything to what you’re saying. Instead, it prevents you from speaking in an active, emphatic voice. Can you see the difference between these two phrases?
- Parent involvement allows us to engage our school community.
- Parent involvement engages our school community.
The last phrase is decisive and offers a clear picture of what you’re doing. The first one isn’t incorrect, but it is longer and more likely to lose your listener.
If you’re reading this, you probably know you have a story to tell. That said, all kinds of things get in our way when we go to actually craft and share that story. Time is a major barrier; a lot of us feel like imposters (why would anyone want to listen to me?); then there’s that nefarious writers or creators block (I have no idea what to say!). So here are a few nudges to remind you why you SHOULD share your story.Read More
Having a short, descriptive pitch at-the-ready can mean the difference between a forgettable networking event and one that leads to making connections that further your mission. Here's the 101 on the elements of an elevator pitch - plus a freebie to amplify your pitch once it's perfected.Read More