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Why “What do you do?” is So Important

By July 17, 2018January 1st, 2020No Comments
executives in a variety of scenarios - talking, collaborating, discussing, writing, on the telephone, all sharing business information, underscoring importance of elevator pitch

With one of our newer clients, I was talking about the importance of a compelling and inspiring elevator speech or elevator pitch. Brian is the SVP of sales and his company has been growing about 75% year over year. They really haven’t had to compete very much and as such didn’t need a set of sales and marketing materials until now. The company is graduating from its 8(a) status. Now, it is imperative the company invest in a variety of resources, sales and marketing, being some of the most important.

In talking with Brian, I discussed his employees encounter many opportunities to tell others about their job and your organization, sometimes by chance and for some, by design. Employees will interview job candidates, converse with customers and prospects on site, meet strangers at the coffee shop or grocery store, talk with friends, and so forth.

In my experience, these opportunities almost always begin with or certainly include, the question, “What do you do?” This is your elevator speech. A well-crafted brand story. When well-crafted, it will inspire a response of, “Tell me more!” The best elevator speech examples I know of lead to more sales, more clients, and other top-line business results.


Many people think the elevator speech is only for networking. In reality, your elevator speech is much, much more.  It is your core business story, your mission statement, your brand story. Done well, it becomes part of your organization’s culture.


Your elevator speech should quickly and compellingly convey the attributes of your brand in a way that resonates with your target audiences. In a way that these audiences should respond with, “Tell me more!”

All of your sales, development, outreach, marketing, and communication materials should stem from your one, elevator speech. Your elevator speech should be synchronized across your ENTIRE organization.  Examples include:

  • “About Us” statement – on your website, in press releases, and presentations
  • Social media profiles – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
  • Sales scripts
  • Conference booth signage
  • Your recruiting messages, especially for strategic hires
  • Referrals for prospective customers, sponsors, members
  • And many more…


  • Why “What do you do?” is So Important (read)
  • “Pause” with Purpose in Speaking, Training, and Storytelling (read)
  • Interest Questions, Your Key to Conversation Success (read)
  • Say What You Want, Say it in Under 30 Seconds (read)
  • Always Simplify Your Communication, Even if it is Rocket Science (read)
  • All elevator speech blog posts and articles (read)

Photography Source:  DepositPhotos

Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.