Most people passionate about what they do have one of two reactions when someone asks about their work.
Reaction #1: In a blur of words and hand gestures, they share every single amazing tidbit of info they have in their brain about their mission, vision, values. The impact they are having. The change they are making. The awesome that they are unleashing in the name of making the world a better place! They pause only long enough to ask themselves: “How could someone not jump at the chance to be a part of something that is so, so, so, so fabulous?!!!!!!!!!”
Reaction #2: They give the most boring account ever of what they do and why they do it. No passion is present. It evaporates into thin air. Poof. Gone.
Both of these reactions happen for the same reasons: these poor people have fallen into the “elevator pitch” trap, which mushes three pitches into one, AND they don’t know how to channel their enthusiasm for their work. So they either over talk or under talk. Either way. It’s ain’t pretty.
If you want donors to donate, volunteers to volunteer, board members to serve, etc etc etc, you have to create a clear engagement path that is supported by a series of pitches. I went into this when introducing the #FixMyPitch contest I’m doing with Beth Kanter, so you can get all the details in that post. The bottom line is you need to divide your pitches into three categories: know, understand and engage. (Note that there is no ‘elevator pitch’ category. Like phones with chords, that category is a thing of the past.)
In the coming weeks, we’ll be revealing the before and after pitches for the contest winners. In the meantime, ask yourself: “do I have a clear engagement path with supporting pitches?” If you don’t, read the #FixMyPitch post, watch for the before and after examples, and start structuring the passion in your pitches by divvying them up into three tidy categories, rather than mushing them into one extinct category!