I’ve been in a situation this week where I’ve had to give my elevator pitch about my research quite a few times to quite a few people. Now, I have the standard spiel that I give, with various tweaks depending on how tech-savvy my audience is, that has evolved over time. But as I was repeating and repeating and repeating myself, I realized that it’s time for an overhaul.
I’m not talking a complete overhaul—the fundamentals of what I do haven’t changed. But my story is much different now. Or, at least the way I need to frame it is much different. Because I’ve had a lot of really good research luck lately, which means that I’ve gotten some really excellent results. We’re talking results that move us way past the “gee, I think this might work” to “gee, we really have something pretty darn fabulous here that works!”. The story itself is much more solid and compelling—a lot of what was “we hope to” is now “we’ve shown that”, and the “we hope to”s are much more far-reaching.
This got me wondering…and so I have some questions for you, my readers!
- How often do you change your elevator pitch? Are you a constant tweaker, or do you use the same spiel pretty much all the time?
- How do you determine that it’s time for an overhaul? And if you’ve ever overhauled your pitch substantially, how did you go about it?
- How many versions, approximately, of your elevator pitch do you use regularly or semi-regularly?
- Do you practice/try out new pitches, and if so, what’s your favorite strategy?
- I’m a tweaker. I probably only do major changes every couple of years, depending on my results. But the pieces of the story—I mess with those a lot.
- I know it’s time for an overhaul when I find myself thinking, as I’m giving the spiel, “hm, that’s not so true anymore” or “hm, we actually already solved that/ruled that out”. I don’t think I could articulate my process, since as I mentioned, I’m constantly tweaking anyway.
- I probably have 4 versions of my pitch that I give on a regular basis.
- I don’t practice—I’ll usually just try out something new and see how it goes over in the moment. Earlier in my career, though, I had some great mentors who insisted on having me talk about my research *a lot* under all sorts of circumstances: short pitches to visitors, informal talks on work-in-progress, etc. So early on, I did get quite a bit of practice honing my message, to the point where I’m fairly comfortable giving it.