You Need an Elevator Pitch

Friday, November 23, 2012

Image by robinsonsmay via Flickr/Creative Commons

Yesterday after stuffing myself with turkey, dressing, macaroni & cheese, greens, and yams, I somehow resisted slipping into a food coma and started chatting with my dad about my future. During our talk I announced that I had plans to start my own business, sort of. I saw his face light up. My father, who's always been my biggest cheerleader, was eager to know more. So I started to tell him a bit about See Jane Write and how I had plans to transform my little networking group into a non-profit organization. "OK, tell me what it will do," my pops asked.

I had an answer, a very looong and detailed answer. As I was explaining what See Jane Write has done in the past and what I hope the group will do in the future I felt I was rambling. My father listened intently, hanging on my every word, and showed how confident he was in my future success, but that's because he's my daddy. If I were pitching my idea to a potential sponsor or to a woman I hoped would be part of See Jane Write I would have been tuned out after my first few sentences, I thought.

Immediately after this conversation I decided I needed to draft an elevator speech for See Jane Write. Chances are you need to draft one for one of your project as well, whether it's a business you hope to start, a blog you recently launched, or a book you'd like to publish.

An elevator pitch, as I'm sure you know, is a brief speech that you can use to spark interest in your organization, project, or idea. Obviously, it should last no longer than a short elevator ride of about 30 seconds -- hence the name.

An elevator pitch should answer three important questions -- WHO, WHAT, and WHY -- and should state a goal. Who are you? What do you do and what problem do you seek to solve? Why is your organization/project/idea unique? Explain your short term goals.

Here's what I've come up with:

See Jane Write is an organization for women writers of Birmingham. 
It offers free programs, such as workshops and panel discussions, to help fiction and non-fiction writers sharpen their skills and to help women writers learn how to promote themselves and their work. 
This group also strives to build community among women writers through social media and networking events. 
My hope is to register See Jane Write as a non-profit organization within the next year so that we can be eligible for grants that will allow the group to do even more for local women writers and launch a program for teenage girls interested in writing careers. 

Clocking in at 39.1 seconds, it's a bit long, but I think it will do the job for now. Feel free to leave tips for improvement in the comments.

What's your elevator pitch? 

Cross posted at the See Jane Write blog.


  1. Yes, it is a bit long, but excellent start! What about:
    See Jane Write is an organization for women writers of Birmingham. We offer free programs to help fiction and non-fiction writers sharpen their skills and learn how to promote their work. We also strive to build community among women writers through social media and networking events. I want to expand See Jane Write and launch a program for teenage girls interested in writing careers, so I want to make it an official non-profit within the next year.

    I was trying to write something similar earlier this week: a 2-3 sentence summary of what my memoir is about. Way more of a struggle than it should've been, and I'm still working on it.

    I have an overall mission statement about me and my work as an artist/activist, but it's missing an answer to "why?":

    I inspire women AND men, girls AND boys, to rethink their world view, change their lives and change the culture of their communities by using my skills as a writer, performer and public speaker to educate them about sexism, racism and their resulting social injustices.

    1. Mariam, thanks so much for your help!

      I think you mission statement answers the "why." You do this to fight against sexism, racism, and social injustice.

    2. Guess you're right. I was looking at it as, "Why do you fight those things?" or "Why do you believe you have to?" I get more comments than I can count from people who believe -isms exist only within the people who point out they exist.

    3. Oh, girl, I understand what you mean. I constantly battle that. I think maybe a quick statement about why this is needed. For example, I feel like I need to add a statement to my elevator speech about how women's voices are underrepresented in the media and in publishing. Maybe you can add something like that but more specific to the issues you want to address.

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