This week, I had a fascinating marketing coaching session with a woman who shared with me her difficulty in speaking about her work. She revealed that, every time she discusses what she does for a living, one of two things happen:
1) People turn off immediately
2) They poke some fun at the company she works for (it’s a well-known national organization with an external reputation that isn’t 100% positive)
While our session was ostensibly about “crafting a powerful elevator pitch,” it morphed quickly into something quite different. We explored not just the “content” of her elevator pitch, but the “process” of how she feels about and connects to her work, and what is missing.
There are vitally important factors that contribute to being able to speak and write about your work and your job in an authentic, exciting and compelling way. It’s not all about the words you choose – it’s about what’s underneath those words.
The following are key ingredients to communicating about what you do for a living with passion, power, and purpose:
1) Alignment – You have to be aligned with your work and supportive of it in order to speak engagingly about it. If you have internal conflicts about the company or the work you do, it’ll show.
2) Clarity – You must be clear about what you do and what aspects of your responsibilities you wish to share with others. If you wear several different hats in your work, get crystal clear about which professional dimension you want to focus on, and to whom (tailor your messages for each type of audience you encounter, so they can care about what you do).
3) Authenticity – If you have to lie or fib to create a compelling story of what you do, it’s time for a change. Lying weakens you, and your energy palpably reveals that you’re not telling the truth.
4) Passion – You can’t fake enthusiasm. If you’re bored to tears with your work, you’ll be boring to others about it. There’s a difference between a “job and a calling.” If you have a calling, you’ve got passion for it. But if you have a job that doesn’t light you up, find some aspect of it that elicits excitment in you (or think about changing directions a bit so it will).
5) Growth – Finally, if your work is NOT helping you grow and learn, your communications will reflect your stagnation. Make a shift in your work so you’re learning and growing all the time. Your writing and speaking will reflect this expansion, and positive growth is a magnet to others.
In the final years before I reinvented my career to something I love, I was corporate VP selling products that, to me, had zero contributive value or meaning in the world. I hated the work, and I simply couldn’t find a way to speak about it positively. When folks would ask me, “What do you do?” I’d give some vague, boring or confusing response.
Why? Because the work I did wasn’t me at all. I didn’t like, respect, or even care about it! If that resonates with you, it’s not your elevator pitch that needs tweaking – it’s your line of work or how you’re engaged in it.
How about you? Do you like talking about your work? If not, what’s the hardest thing about it, and what do you think that challenge suggests?
Thanks for sharing!