Is Your Elevator Pitch Leaving People Confused? by @drmichellemazur

elevator pitch

by Michelle Mazur, Ph.D. | Featured Contributor

When I spied her across the room, I just knew I had to meet her.

Her big smile, positive vibe, and openness had me at hello.

We struck up a conversation. We both loved Game of Thrones, owned neurotic cats, and loved bad 80s music.

That’s when I popped the question (it was a networking event after all).

“So tell me, what do you do?”

She started talking, and talking, and talking. When she finished my only thought was “Wow, she’s great, but I’ve got no idea what she does.”

I was so confused that even if I had met her perfect client for her I wouldn’t have recognized them.

Developing that 60-second elevator pitch is the bane of entrepreneurship, but without a clear, concise, and confident pitch you’re going to lose out on clients and referrals.

How do you stop leaving people utterly confused and baffled by your elevator pitch? I’m so glad you asked. Here are three tips to take your elevator pitch from “say what?” to “she’s got it going on!”

Stop being clever

When did it become a rule that your elevator pitch had to be cutesy or clever to capture a person’s attention?

Elevator pitches are not cheesy pick up lines that sleazeballs could use at a bar.

I once attended an elevator pitch workshop where we were tasked to find a WOW opening line for our elevator pitches.

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 is that everyone else was struggling as much as I was looking for the holy grail of opening lines. What I heard made me realize:

  • Clever does not start conversations
  • Clever does not build a relationship
  • Clever feels salesy and awkward
  • Clever is freaking hard

Drop the clever, cheesy opening lines. Start being yourself. You’re not selling the other person anything. Trust that they want to get to know you as a human being and not as a sales person.

Clear and personable trumps clever any day of the week.

Focus on the transformation

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

What you do is complex, it’s nuanced, and if you were going to explain it you would need far more than 60-seconds to do an adequate job.

So stop. Stop describing how you do what you do and instead focus on the transformation.

Entrepreneurs can fall in love with the process, the tool, or the technology behind what they do.

Potential clients and people who want to refer you are focused on the transformation you provide for your clients.

When your clients first come to you how are they feeling and what are they experiencing? After they work with you what are their results?

A simple before and after tells other people more about your work than if you tried to explain every tool that you use in your business.

Pass the mental Rolodex test

When you describe who you work for, can the person you’re talking to get a clear mental picture of that person?

I was once working with a leadership coach who told me she worked with “people centered leaders.” Umm, what the heck? I had no idea what that even meant.

I pressed her further to describe some of her favorite clients and there was a pattern. Her favorite clients were all females who were newly promoted to vice-presidents in Fortune 500 companies.

Bingo! We have a winner. I can scan my mental Rolodex and see if I know anyone who fits the bill.

If the person you’re talking to can’t visualize who you serve, you’re failing the mental Rolodex test. Lose the jargon and describe who you serve in simple, relatable terms.

Every time you go to a networking event, it’s an opportunity to improve, refine, and experiment with your elevator pitch. Get feedback. Don’t be afraid to play with your elevator pitch.

The more you give it, the clearer it will become, and you’ll never leave another person utterly confused about what you do.


Michelle Mazur, Ph.D., Audacious Breakthroughs for Standout Presentations – Seattle, WA

Michelle MazurMichelle is the CEO of Communication RebelTM, a boutique communication consultancy specializing in the content development of presentations. To steal a lyric from a terrible Bryan Adams song, she firmly believes “Everything you do. You do it for the audience.” Armed with a Ph.D. in Communication, she has helped hundreds of business leaders and entrepreneurs design and deliver presentations from the audience’s point of view. Her speakers have spoken in front of world leaders, First Ladies, and have raised three times the amount of money than expected for charities.

She believes every presentation should leave a lasting impression and the last words of your presentation are the most important real estate in your speech. Check out her free tool the Audience Journey to help you craft that final thought. It’s proven to leave your audience talking and taking action long after your finished speaking.

She is also author of the Amazon best-selling book, Speak Up for Your Business: Presentation Secrets for Entrepreneurs Ready to Tell, Sell, and Compel.

Michelle lives in Seattle with her adoring husband, 2 obsessive felines, and huge collection of Duran Duran memorabilia. You don’t have to fly to Seattle to hang out with Michelle. Come visit her on the blog for all things public speaking, hit her up twitter @drmichellemazur, or like (you really like her) on Facebook.

Share :


Join the conversation