How Well Do You Articulate What You Do?

By Guest blogger - Apr. 4, 2013
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Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Phil Preston and Michael Neaylon – cofounders of Presentability. Their opinions are their own.

As established business owners, startups or experienced entrepreneurs we’re often called upon to give some kind of version of an elevator pitch. In fact, if you fall into any of these camps you ideally never stop selling your business, product, service or idea.

There are, however, major costs if you don’t sell yourself, your business, idea or offerings well; from missing out on significant investor funding and strategic alliances to sales opportunities and vendor deals.

What is an elevator pitch and what basic issues should you address?

For the uninitiated an elevator pitch is a punchy précis of what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it, all rolled into one relevant, articulate, concise and memorable benefit statement. It is aimed squarely at your target audience – ideally the person or people right in front of you.

That’s all, no pressure! No wonder we can find it challenging.

So challenging in fact that this is a two-part blog.

To make the process easier though here are some of the vital elements in preparing your pitch, breaking them down one by one:

1. Make your presentation relevant

This is vital to start with because the more relevant you are with both your content – and what’s in it for this audience (whether that’s one or many) – the more likely they are to listen to you.

All of us are constantly asking ourselves, ‘what’s in this for me?’ It’s only human. And in business, it’s simply human business. So before you even start to espouse all the wonderful things you have to offer, think about them first.

Have you ever been at a networking event and had someone inundate you with everything they do without once asking about you or your business, or even taking a moment to breathe to check your reaction. That’s often referred to as ‘spray and pray’ as opposed to giving your audience a more targeted experience with relevant benefits specifically aimed at them and their drivers. Bringing us to our next point …

2. What are their core drivers?

Ask yourself what they’d want out of it. Even better, call people just like them and find out what truly benefits them. What will drive them to buy or be engaged? Money, fame, status, an easier life, more time perhaps?

Each of these may be specific to your audience. In sheer marketing terms this is called researching your market, and it will pay big dividends, especially if you allow the research to inform your content, delivery, and the tone of your presentation.

3. Find the appropriate tone in both your content and delivery

Part of that tone will be informed by where you’re giving this presentation, and for what purpose.

A ‘Pitch Fest’ on stage with other entrepreneurs needs a completely different dynamic, tone, language and energy level to an impromptu conversation with a stranger sitting in the seat beside you on a plane.

For instance, if you’re giving a pitch to a panel in front of other entrepreneurs, no matter how compelling your concept, your delivery needs to take into account your audience. This is show time!

On the other hand, a conversation on the plane to a complete stranger will be a process of discovery as you find out more about them and take a to and fro approach, feeling out whether there’s even a genuine synergy, and if so, how you can weave in what you do, why and how you do it in such a way that will appeal to them. It will also be delivered with much more ease, and a more relaxed energy. Unless of course you want them reaching for their headphones.

4. Articulate your main selling points

Now that you know what they may be looking for, break that down by framing the conversation in terms of:

  • What’s in this for them?
  • What else do they get?
  • What’s their personal upside?

Asking you to suspend disbelief for a brief moment, let’s say window wipers didn’t exist and you’ve just invented them to take to market. Your presentation might give these answers to the questions above:

  • Clean windows
  • Safer driving experience
  • Personal peace of mind for them and their family

If we tell someone they get clean windows, their answer (spoken or worse, silent), may be ‘So? That’s it?’ We’ve inadvertently undersold the experience by under-articulating it.

Which brings us to our next points on being concise, precise and memorable, which we’ll give you in part two of ‘How Well Do You Articulate What You Do?

For now, work on articulating your content, keeping in mind your audience, what they want to hear most, and how they want to hear it.

As with all your presentations, practise, practise, practise! Make the benefits more about what’s in it for them than they are about you or your brilliant idea. The irony being, of course, that if you do articulate your idea well, the ultimate benefits could very well be for you both.


Phil Preston and Michael Neaylon are the Co-founders and Directors of Presentability. They are entrepreneurs who facilitate influential and persuasive presentation skills programs to equip you with the skills and confidence you need for even greater presentability.


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