I was a prisoner at my niece’s wedding reception.
There I sat at my assigned table surrounded by five other people I didn’t really know.
Dinner was being served, so I couldn’t run when they started asking the question.
You know the one… “So, what do you do?”
First, I panicked. How could I possibly sum up what I do? How could I make it sound cool?
“I’m a copywriter,” I blurted out.
The looks on their faces said it all… no one had any idea what that meant. Then one daring woman next to me asked, “What’s a copywriter?”
My answer was a stumbling, mashed-up mess. By the time I finished, even I wasn’t sure what a copywriter did.
It would have been so much easier to answer, “I’m a doctor… I’m a teacher… or, I’m a pharmacy tech.” Most folks are familiar with those occupations. But, copywriting? Not so much.
Add to that, I’m an introvert. Making small talk is not my thing. And, I know that’s true for a lot of writers. It’s not always easy to introduce yourself… let alone tell someone your best qualities in under 30 seconds.
The best thing you can do is to come prepared.
Being prepared gives you confidence. Feeling confident helps you succeed… even if it’s at something small, like nailing an introduction.
I learned this lesson a couple of years ago, when I was working as a park ranger.
My boss came into my office on a Monday and said I would be leading a “wildflower walk” the following Sunday.
I tried not to let him see the panic in my eyes. The most I knew about wildflowers was the difference between a weed and a tomato plant.
So, the next morning, I staked out where the wildflower walk was to take place. With a wildflower guidebook, notebook and pen in hand, I recorded and studied every flower I could find. Then I researched interesting stories about some of the flowers.
When Sunday came around, I was feeling confident and at ease as I guided the group, showcasing each of nature’s beauties along the way.
It went well. But, only because I was well-prepared.
It’s the same with introducing yourself. Having a prepared, personal “elevator pitch” — a quick summation of what you do and why it matters — can do more for you than just help you be more confident when someone asks what you do. In fact, when you have a spot-on elevator pitch, you’ll actually look forward to people asking you that question… really.
And, here’s the thing. Some of those people will hear your elevator pitch and want to talk with you further about what you do. Some of them may even want to hire you!
And, there are several times you can use your elevator pitch:
- When networking at conferences
- When friends and neighbors ask what you do
- In your email signatures
- As a live video intro
Summing up the work you do as a copywriter in a quick, 30-second pitch may sound impossible, but creating it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think.
5 Questions + 5 Minutes = Your Personal Elevator Pitch
One morning while I was watering my garden, I was listening to a TED Talk from Adam Leipzig on my phone.
Adam is an educator, author, and speaker. He was sharing how to find your purpose in five minutes.
In his talk, he shared five questions that he asked his audience quickly. I thought I would play along and ask myself, too.
The first question was easy.
“What’s your name?” he asked the group.
Then he counted down from five seconds, and the group all called out their names together.
I called out my name, too… while listening through my ear phones. (My neighbors are used to me talking to myself.)
Answer this: What’s your name?
The second question: What do you love to do?
Well, I had lots of answers for that question.
I love to write, garden, hike, watch movies… and the list goes on.
But then, Adam clarified the question by asking: What is the one thing you would feel qualified to teach or show someone else.
That got me thinking. After a couple of self-reflecting minutes, I realized I’ve always loved troubleshooting, especially when it comes to health issues.
If a friend complains about a health problem, I want to find a way to solve it. The science of staying healthy has always fascinated me.
I wouldn’t say, “Oh, you should go to a doctor.” Instead, I would research for answers and options. Then I would come up with an option and tell them about it. I love finding solutions.
Answer this: What’s the one thing you would feel qualified to teach someone?
The third question: Who do you do it for?
At first I thought, I find solutions for friends and family.
But really, I do it for two different groups of people:
- Sick people who are looking for a chance to get well
- People who can help the sick get better through their product or practice
Answer this: Who do you do what you love for?
The fourth question: What help do people want or need when they come to you?
For me the answer was clear… a connection. I would be the connector piece between sick people looking for answers and the businesses with services that can help them.
Answer this: What help are people coming to you looking for?
The fifth question: How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?
In my case, the sick people get a chance to be healthy again. The companies and practitioners get the opportunity to share their expertise.
Answer this: How do they change/transform as a result of what you give them?
Putting it all together: Your Unique Elevator Pitch in Five Minutes
Now, review all your answers together. You may have an “aha” moment like I did.
Defining my purpose made it amazingly clear to me… I had just created my elevator pitch.
Adam gave a great example of pulling it all together like this:
If you discovered you love to write books for kids, so they can fall sleep at night and have awesome dreams… you could say your life’s purpose is: “I give kids awesome dreams.”
So, for me, I was able to identify my life’s purpose like this:
“I help people get their life-saving work into the world”…
“I help alternative, integrative and functional medicine companies and practitioners to connect with sick people who need a chance at being well again.”
Now, that elevator pitch seems way more interesting than, “I’m a copywriter” or “I write marketing messages for companies in the alternative-health industry.”
You want your elevator pitch to start a conversation. And, “I help people get their life-saving work into the world” does that.
Now, you try it. Most of your elevator pitch will come from answering questions four and five. If you are truly honest with yourself, your purpose becomes clear.
This is important…
Write out your elevator pitch on an index card, memorize it, and say it every day until it becomes a natural part of you.
Put it on top of your computer, post it to your bathroom mirror and your refrigerator door, and hang it on your office wall. Print it on your business cards and promotional pieces, too.
As a bonus, by keeping it in front of you at all times, it will also keep you focused. You’ll find you won’t wander into other areas that don’t pertain to your purpose.
So, there you have it. Next time you find yourself sitting at that dinner table with strangers, or standing in an elevator full of unknowns, you can confidently think to yourself with anticipation…
“Go ahead… ask me what I do… I dare you.”