Why Bad Pitches Happen to Good People

elevator pitch, boring, haiku, personal pitch
You’re not boring. Why have a boring pitch?!

The kind folks at WVDO-OR invited me to do a workshop on Perfecting Your Personal Pitch.  I really should’ve called it:  ‘Pitchfalls: Why Bad Pitches Happen to Good People’.

Andy Goodman, storytelling guru and all-around source of messaging goodness, has previously revealed ‘Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes‘ and ‘Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes‘. Both are mind-blowing while being uber-practical.

There’s no shortage of info on creating an awesome elevator pitch. So the question is: why do bad (elevator) pitches happen to good people?

Pitches go sideways for many reasons. After hearing thousands of pitches from good people over the years, here are the top three reasons:

  1. You’re boring: You technically say what you do, but you say it in such a boring way, the person you’re saying it to wants to nap.
  2. You say too much: You’re so excited about what you do that you go on and on and on, regaling the listener with your laundry list of awesomeness.
  3. You think people care about you: They don’t. They care about themselves. They want to hear how what you are doing relates to them.

Great pitches also happen good people. (Here’s an example of one.) And they can happen to you.

If you’d like to banish bad pitches, for you and good people, peruse the presentation and/or get in touch.


Portlandia Do Gooders

Last Friday, I found myself surrounded by 35+ of Portland’s most impressive do-gooders in the board room of the United Way of Columbia-Willamette. And they are doing some serious good, let me tell ya!

I was there thanks to an invite from WVDO and Creative Cares. We covered a lot of territory in our 7  hours together (here’s the Prezi so you can see what I mean) and this group gave me lots to think about. Here are a few of those thoughts:

  • Strategy THEN marketing: We started by setting marketing goals (a.k.a. 1E on the 1, 2, 3 Marketing Tree.) It never fails that some folks get really stuck on this part. Marketing is a means to an end. If you don’t know what the end is, it’s mighty hard to know how to get there. Look to your strategic plan or fundraising plan for goals that marketing might help you achieve. If you can’t clearly articulate your goals, stop spending resources on marketing. (Seriously. Stop. Now.) Use those resources to identify your goals and then turn back to your marketing.
  • Progress ≠ Change: We all want to make progress–it’s fun and gratifying! But we rarely want to make change. Change is uncomfortable. When you introduce something new–e.g. a new way to talk about your organization–expect resistence. Plan for that resistence.
  • Manage expectations: We were all fortunate that Ash Shepard, of NPower NW’s Portland office, was able to join us on Friday to share his wisdom and insight on using social media in your marketing. One of the points that really stood out was how mindfully we need to manage people’s expectations when we use social media. For instance, if you have a presence on Facebook but you really want to build community on your blog, say so. If you just have up a Facebook page without letting us know what to expect from it, we will expect that you  have the same intentions as everyone else, i.e. to use Facebook to build community. If that doesn’t happen, we’re disappointed. Disappointment erodes trust. And that’s not good for anybody.

If you were at the training, what are your thoughts? If you couldn’t make it, do any of these points hit home or do they miss the mark for you?

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?