Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's Your Elevator Pitch?

Have you heard this expression before? An elevator pitch is a statement you make in response to the question, "What do you do?" Imagine that you are riding in an elevator with someone who asks that question, and you'll get an idea of how long you'll get to answer that question. We're not talking about going into your whole bio. If I started with "I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland ...", half the elevator would have gotten off before I finished, and the other half would have fallen asleep.

The first rule of the elevator pitch is then, keep it short. You don't want to lose your audience before you're done.

The second rule: be clear. The only way you can do this is to practice the pitch. Say it out loud. Say it in a conversational manner. Don't sound like you're giving a speech. What are you? What do you do? Are you a lawyer who is a partner in a firm, who takes dance lessons for fun, teaches French in night school, and is secretly writing a young adult novel? Only you can figure out what you want to put out there. You'll decide what you want to say based on who you are speaking to.

That brings me to the next rule: know your audience. Most of the time, you'll have a slight idea of the background of the person who is asking what you do. In the above example, that person may have an elevator pitch about being a lawyer, that he would use in some occasions, and a separate one about his novel that he would use in others. Don't be afraid to create a few elevator pitches. Just be sure they are specific enough to have some meaning and be interesting to the person you are talking to.

I've come up with my elevator pitch, what about you? Of course your elevator pitch can change as you change; it can always evolve. Here is mine:

I am an artist. I design jewelry and paint, selling my creations on the internet and at small shows. I also run a non-profit -- our local art society. We have over 100 members, and we provide exhibit opportunities and mentoring. We also donate art to our communities and award college scholarships to young artists.

What do you think? Are you an artist who is not afraid to say "I Am An Artist"? Or "I Am A Writer"? If you'd like to post your elevator pitches as a blog comment here, I'll post them in a later post. Why not get them out there? Who's with me?

Here's one of my latest jewelry creations. I've gone back to my roots -- working with metal. My camera recently broke, so I just got a new one and am back in business taking photos and posting them to my blog.

Here's my latest painting. I haven't thought of a name yet.

I'm looking forward to hearing your pitches.


Donna Heart said...

What a great post and a really great idea! Only today the checkout girl at the supermarket asked me what kind of art do I do - and I only had about 10 seconds to answer, and I just fumbled out something! I really need to put some thought into this - thanks for the great info!

De Anna Welch said...

love this post. no. i've never heard of an elevator pitch but it makes perfect sense. loving the metal jewelry and your painting has fun spring colors. have a great day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm Captain Ninja Alex, author, blogger, musician, and movie-lover extraordinaire!
How's that? Too long?

Lynda R Young said...

I did graphic design for many years. My pitch was 'Corporate Slave'. I usually got away with it if I said it with a smile hehehe.

sandy axelrod said...

Great post! Funny when I was making jewelry I found it harder to talk about what I did. I guess I am just more passionate about food. Now it's easy, I'm a chef and food writer. But of course I could go on for hours talking about food!

Dawn said...

Great blog post...I'm going to start working on mine now!

Deborah said...

I'm a firm believer in the elevator speech. Well written, succinct, and interesting.

It's the best friend a biz owner can have!

Catherine Witherell said...

Hi Suzanne!

I'm Catherine Witherell and I'm an Artist, Jewelry Designer, Sculptor and work with Mixed Media. I make things. I teach things. I learn things. I toss it all up in the air and make more things. I've been writing a blog about my exploration in art and life for the past 5 years and it's HappyDayArt!

Nice to meet you. Thank you for your thoughtful comment today. I loved this post of yours.

Amelia said...

interesting. It's taken me a while to get there and say that, but here goes:

I'm a mixed media artist, living and working in the UK and currently studying my Masters in Fine Art. I work solely as a free-lance artist and workshop facilitator and am always concocting new projects to get the world involved in making and creating art and finding ways to make it 'work' ;)

thank you for the opportunity for my elevator pitch (I just let it flow out there without much thought! :0 )

Kerri said...

that's great to have thought of a quick way to tell what you do- i sound so bumbling when asked. i need an elevator pitch too! ;)