5 Tips On How To Answer The Question, “What Do You Do?”

by Laura Allen

“So, what do you do?” How many times have you been asked this simple question? And how many times have you struggled to explain yourself succinctly? If you can’t tell someone who you are and what you do in just 15 seconds, don’t worry. You aren’t alone.

You only have one chance to make a first impression. And since most of the time, that “What do you do?” question is part of that first impression, you better have a good response ready to go.

Having the perfect 15-second pitch for yourself and your business isn’t impossible, if you plan ahead. Here are five things you shouldn’t do when preparing the perfect 15-second pitch.

5 tips for writing the perfect 15-second pitch:

1. Don’t “wing it.” It’s better to have your pitch memorized ahead of time and then be a bit spontaneous with it once you know it by heart. There’s nothing worse than getting an opportunity with an amazing potential client and then stumbling over yours words. It’s better to sound a bit rehearsed than to flub your pitch altogether.

2. Don’t be vague. How many financial advisors have you met who told you, “I help my clients sleep better at night.” How? Doing what? I’d rather have a financial advisor tell me, “I keep my clients up all night because they are planning a trip around the world with the money they’ve earned.” At least that is memorable!

3. Don’t make your pitch too long. Unless you are Tony Robbins and have the gift for keeping people on the edge of their seats, a 2-minute pitch can feel like an eternity for the listener. If you can’t explain who you are and what you do in just 15 seconds, you’ve probably lost their attention for good.

4. Don’t forget to practice out loud in front of the mirror. You can write a phenomenal pitch that looks great on paper, but if you can’t deliver it over the phone or face-to-face then you are lost. And remember that sometimes you may be talking to someone in a crowded room, so make sure your pitch can be easily understood and heard in a noisy space.

5. Don’t make it too complex for others to share. Most people get referrals from people they know and trust. So make is easy for your trusted network to share what you do with people they know that may need your services. This is called a “third party pitch” and it is the most effective way to get more business.

When planning your 15-second pitch, take a moment to ask yourself this question: “What is one thing you do better than anyone in the world?” Now, ask yourself, “What is one thing I do better than anyone else in the world that I could actually get paid for?” Start thinking about what sets you apart and build your pitch around that.

Laura Allen is a private consultant and coach and is the founder of the 15-Second Pitch and ThePitchGirl.com. Laura helps people market themselves more effectively, by working with them to develop a clear message of what they offer – a message that can be delivered in 15 seconds.