Why so many people avoid the “elevator pitch” – and why they shouldn’t

I heard such an awesome elevator pitch the other day.

It was by Adam Grant in his Work Life podcast for TED.

At the start of each episode he says:

“My name is Adam Grant. I’m an organisational psychologist. I study how to make work not suck.”

Now, you can call me really boring and nerdy (because I am) but I think that’s an awesome way to explain something.

I like it for so many reasons, but I like it mainly because…

  1. It only takes a few seconds to say. So, it would be so easy to explain at a networking event or even a party.
  2. It’s easy to understand. Not everyone knows what an organisational psychologist does, but they know what a psychologist does.
  3. There’s a clear and worthwhile benefit for the sake of humankind – “making work not suck”.
  4. He’s doing the opposite of what so many people in his industry (academia) does. He’s simplifying his work, rather than overcomplicating it.

Now, the last point hits close to home for me because I used to work in university marketing & communications.

I would regularly write news stories and blogs about academics’ research and make them not sound like they were written by academics.

What is a shame because I love academics.

I love the idea of someone dedicating so much time to the dissection and study of a subject to share what they’ve learnt with the people, for the good of the people.

Sadly so many are in the habit of writing in academic conventions that they’re not great at communicating what they do to people who are not in academia.

And I get it. I understand it.

No one wants to pigeonhole themselves.

No one wants others to think of them as only a “British politics researcher”* when they’re also interested in teaching philosophy & ethics.

We’re all more than one thing.

So I believe that’s one reason why academics and business professionals often avoid coming up with an “elevator pitch”.

But developing one can be a really powerful way of communicating who you and what you do, especially to people who don’t know you.

I believe it can also help give you a little more career direction.**

I’ve been trying to develop my own elevator pitch recently.

And I’ve experienced the same pigeonholing concern. I do so many different things. Just check out my about me page and you’ll see.

But I’ve made what I think is a good starting effort:

“My name is Lewis King. I’m a writer and speaker. I help businesses tell jargon-lite and layman-friendly stories about themselves.”

It’s not perfect. I haven’t really defined my audience. And also it’s a little hard on the eyes.

But the great thing about elevator pitches is you can keep developing them. You can keep pitching them to people and tweaking it on the way.

That’s what I’m doing anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Talk soon,



*Mind you, now is either an amazing or terrible time to be British politics researcher. Yes, my satire does come at a discount price, why do you ask?

**but this is only a half baked thought right now, I really need to think about this more. Stay tuned.

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