3 Reasons Why Your Elevator Pitch Leaves People Confused

By Dr. Michelle Mazur

I heard her elevator pitch 100 times before. I knew she was smart, had big ideas about her industry and that she was good at what she does. The problem: I had no idea exactly what she did or who she did it for.

If you threatened to set fire to my whole collection of Duran Duran memorabilia and the only way you’d stop is by me telling you what this person did for a living, it would all disappear in a puff of smoke.

I wanted to refer her, to recommend her, to meet people and think  “Oh, I know someone who could really help you.”

But I couldn’t because I didn’t know how she served people.

Frankly, she was missing out because if I – one of her business BFFs – couldn’t talk about her biz, no one could.

The Problem With Pitches

Why was her pitch leaving me so utterly confused? Heck, it’s not just her – it’s an epidemic at the networking events that I attend. People just don’t do a great job describing their business.

There are 3 big reasons why your elevator pitch could be leaving people confused:

1) Trying too hard to be clever

When did it become a rule that we had to be clever to capture people’s attention?

There I was in the NSA (not the guys that spy, but the peeps who speak), and we were tasked with coming up with a WOW opening line for our elevator pitch.

I felt pressured, stressed, and worried if I would be WOW-worthy. I didn’t know what to say. WOW is a tall order.

The good news: everyone else was struggling as much as I was in looking for the holy grail of opening lines. What I heard made me realize:

Clever is not conversational.

Clever feels salesy.

Clever is freaking hard.

Stop being clever. Start being yourself and start a conversation.

2) Does your elevator pitch pass the “mental rolodex” test?

I was helping one business owner who said she worked with “people-centered leaders.”

I had no idea what that meant – worse I couldn’t access my mental rolodex and see if I knew anyone who would be a good fit.

So I told her “Imagine your favorite client and now describe her?”

“Oh that’s easy. She’s a newly-promoted VP in a Fortune 500 company and is struggling with her leadership.”

And there it was…

She helps newly promoted female VPs in Fortune 500 companies.

Hot damn!

Now, I can access my mental rolodex and see if I know anyone who fits.

If the person you’re giving the pitch to can’t visualize who it is you serve, you’re failing the mental rolodex test. Lose the jargon and describe who you serve in simple, relatable terms.

3) The curse of knowledge

It’s nearly impossible to describe what you do when you’re the one who does it.

You get mired in the details. What you do IS complex. There is nuance. It is hard to explain.

It’s the curse of knowledge. Once we learn something it’s darn near impossible to approach it from a beginner’s mindset. You’re just too close.

This is what happens with your elevator pitch.

The key is to simplify.

And the best way to simplify is to get feedback on your elevator pitch from other people. People who are not your best business friends, hubby, cats (their feedback sucks), but people who do not intimately know you.

Get their feedback. See if it’s clear who you serve, what you do and the results you get.

p.s. If you’re looking for feedback, want to craft a elevator pitch that feels 100% like you and creates conversation and connection, check out my Love Your Pitch classes. When you know how to talk about what you do, you transform business buddies into business advocates. Class starts June 23rd. Click here for more information.

About the Author:

As a Speech Designer and Idea Architect, Dr. Michelle Mazur guides introverted business professionals and entrepreneurs to ignite the smoldering fires within them so they can speak up, speak out, and make their impact—one compelling presentation at a time.

She is the author of Speak Up for Your Business and contributing author to the Amazon Best Seller Ted:ology: Presentation Secrets of TED Talks and Master Presenter: Lessons from the World’s Top Experts on Becoming a More Influential Speaker.  For more information visit her website at www.drmichellemazur.com


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