The Importance of Creating An Elevator Pitch

Confidence can be found in one little word….

Preparation.

Photo by  Joan Fisher

Photo by Joan Fisher

It’s inevitable.  When you’re out meeting new people what’s one of the first questions that’s asked?  “So, what do you do?”

When I made the transition from Director of Finance and HR to full time artist, I struggled with that question so much.  I’d respond, “I’m an artist” but that prompted more questions like, “what kind of art do you do”, “where do you show your work”, (and better yet) “is that what you do full time for work??”  Ummm yes. Yes it is.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t really have an easy title to grab that’s straight forward, cut and dry, like lawyer, dentist, or even Director of Finance and HR.  Answering that we’re entrepreneurs and run our own business doing xyz will generally lead to more questions and some questions can even seem like underlying insults.  I brush those off because I like to think people are generally well-intentioned, just uncertain how to go about learning more.

My favorite situation yet was being in a workshop filled with professional women and asked to go around the room, one by one, introducing ourselves and saying what we do.  Cue sweaty palms, shaky voice, and dry mouth. 

Basically, I was unprepared (understatement).  I didn’t know how to introduce myself or talk about my business. 

That’s when I learned about elevator pitches and how to create one for my business.  It may change a bit based on who I’m speaking with but I practice it often and it gives me the confidence I once lacked when promoting the work I do.  These intros are quick first impressions so make every second count.

Let’s go through 5 key points:

1) Identify who you are and connect with them.  Start by saying, “I’m an artist - I’m a business coach - I’m an interior designer - I’m a real estate agent - etc.”  Then think is there a way to relate to them on a level where they can understand your passions without the conversation just falling off. 

I met NYC Branding Expert, Mary van de Wiel (Van) while in Mexico earlier this year and I’ll never forget it.  She said when introducing your business, “communicate who you are and why I should give a damn.” How’s that for straight forward?

We need to be relatable and connect with the people we’re talking to.  Another way to frame this: identify who you help or who you serve.

2) Establish credibility.  I broke this into point 2 and point 3 because I think this looks different for different fields.  This is where you mention the degree, certification, or experience you received that shows the listener you’re qualified to do or say what it is you’re doing.  In just a few words right at the beginning of your pitch, throw it out there.

3) What Makes you different.  This is the second part to gaining credibility but you’ll list one or two of your greatest accomplishments.  Clients you’ve landed, commissions you’ve received, etc.

4) Don’t defend.  Some people may not understand what you do, and that’s okay.  Not everyone is going to ‘get it’ so don’t feel the need to ramble on trying to convince them otherwise.  Just stick to telling about the fulfilling work you do and if they’re not following, then oh well. They’re not your people anyways.

5) Practice.  Practice your pitch so it comes out naturally and becomes second nature.  Once it’s a well oiled machine, networking becomes a little less daunting and a less awkward task (trust me).  Not all conversations are the same so it’s good to just be ready to chat about a few points and connect with people in a conversation.  If you’re introducing yourself to a group of people, hit these high points and keep in mind your ‘pitch’ should be short, maybe 60 seconds or so.

Here’s an example of my current pitch: “Hi, I’m Jessica Hitchcock and I’m an artist. My artwork is colorful, vibrant, and energetic. I paint live at weddings and private events. My work is available on my website and in boutiques and restaurants in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Illinois. I also create custom pieces for clients and organizations, such as the Siteman Cancer Center.”

There you have it! I’m just answering the questions I generally get asked when people hear I’m an artist and also throwing in items from points 2 and 3.

I’m excited for you to build your pitch and feel 100% confident sharing the amazing work you do.

xo Jessica