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Can you describe what you do in 10 seconds?

By August 29, 2014May 24th, 2021verve

It was another typical scenario of a family friend saying to me “you’re a what designer?”

me: “a graphic designer”

them: “oh, like computer graphics?”

me: “ah..yeah… kind of..”

I threw around some words describing how graphic design is seen virtually everywhere: in logos, magazine layouts, posters, billboards, packaging (everywhere!) The family friend nodded, took a sip of his drink and looked around for someone else to have a conversation with.

I was confused… This wasn’t the first time this had happened!

So what went wrong? Did I stumble? Was I vague? Maybe I should have told him about the cool logo we designed just last week, or the awesome website we produced – just to put things into perspective.

Then it hit me!

I didn’t have what’s known as an ‘elevator pitch’.

You know, those quick 10 second summary of words you use in scenarios (like elevators!) when you meet someone for the first time and want to explain to them what you do as succinctly as possible.

I put some thought into it, and in the following days I tried to construct a couple of sentences that painted a picture of what I did and was so passionate about.

Something wasn’t gelling though. There’s got to be a better way of doing it that was more in line with my brand ethos!

I didn’t like the term ‘elevator pitch’. It sounded so ‘salesy’, so corporate, and standard! Why would I communicate using words like ‘professional’, ‘efficient’, and ‘entrepreneurial’ when I could use words like ‘creative’, ‘thoughtful’, and ‘unique’?!

I quickly ditched the conventional ‘elevator pitch’ idea of trying to pull a stock-standard sentence together, and worked with words of uttermost value to me and my business instead.

I jotted these words down on a big piece of butchers paper in black pen. I just let the words flow! Words like:

‘creative, honest, thoughtful, magnificent’
teamed with words like
‘visual, communication, valuable”

Some words were really similar, like passionate and passion (in fact, I think I wrote passionate many times!) Others surprised me, like ‘wholesome’ and ‘brave’.

All of a sudden I had clarity! Everything that I believed I was as a graphic designer was written out there in front of me.

Now of course, I knew it wasn’t going to be practical for me to lug that massive piece of butchers paper around with me – everywhere I went – all day long. So I circled my favourite words; the ones that I was drawn to the most, and I cut these words up into their own little cards and I put them everywhere! On my fridge, as the screensaver on my computer, and pinned to my moodboard.

Over time, these words became planted in my heart and mind, and as they buzzed around in my thoughts became very easy and natural to pull into the conversations I was having.

So rather than an ‘elevator pitch’ made up of words I find sterile and sound like a voice recording, I’m armed with a series of valuable words that will inspire and connect with the people I’m talking to.

My ‘pitch’ sounds a little something like…

“I communicate creatively and visually through graphics and words to thoughtfully help create beautiful brands for my clients”

Or sometimes it sounds like..

“I’m passionate about beautiful branding and advertising and I use my creativity to design with graphics and type something that’s honest and valuable to the viewer”

And the responses I get?

Lifted eyebrows and curiosity to know more.
Sometimes people will say “oh wow” and be inspired to come up with their own list of value words.
More often than not, I’ll find myself speaking to a new client or referral.

Have you got an ‘elevator pitch’ that needs some love?

Why not:
– Get a piece of paper and write down some wholesome, thoughtful words about what you do?
– Pick and pin up your favourites in places you’ll see them all the time
– When you’re ready, practice using these words in conversation with friends and then try on strangers!

The beauty is that you’re not pressured or locked into an unchangeable sentence – you just have to remember your value words and you’ll pull the sentence together effortlessly and organically.

Love this? Why not share it with a friend who might need guidance developing their pitch too?

Or join in the conversation below… tell me what words you would use to develop your pitch.