How to Say What You Do with Impact: The Human Elevator Pitch

The Perfect Elevator Pitch…6 Tips for Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch…The Key Components of a Powerful Elevator Pitch…

You know the advice.  You know it’s in your best interest to have a short “pitch” ready in case you bump into someone with influence in your professional sphere, right?

“Jein” as the Germans say (“ja” + “nein”).

Yes, it’s a good idea to have a so-called “Elevator Pitch” ready for such a situation.  However, it’s much more important to take the time to articulate what you do (& why) when meeting the other 99%.


1. The Positive Personal Impact 

It gives a clear, confident and positive picture of you, i.e. great first impression.  It also shows that you care about your work – something that inspires people.

2. The Value Exchange

By taking the time (& energy) to share with others, it shows that you value their opinion. This creates positive energy for the interaction – after all, you have no idea what possible positive outcome may result.

3. The Human Network Effect

You extend your services to them but also to their network – there’s no better advertising than old-fashioned “word of mouth”!.


As established, it’s important to take the time and energy to tell people what you do and why you do it.  Just as important is how you do it…

If you start to act strategically in your human interactions, others will feel it.  If you’re strategic about what you share and with whom, you’ll make a bad impression on everyone within earshot.

So how can you say what you do without coming across as salesy or work obsessed?

Be authentic.

Here are 3 guidelines (+ actionable tips) to help you do this:

1. Keep It Simple.

“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain…you wouldn’t be interested…it’s kind of complicated…”

Have you ever said something like this?

I have.  And there was no excuse for my laziness.

But you know what?  People are overloaded enough – nobody wants a step-by-step handbook.  Besides, if they want to know more, they’ll ask. 

Which one of the job descriptions is likely to get a follow-up question?

“I’m a 5th grade science teacher.”


“I teach 10 year-olds about science and nature.”

The “teach” one, hands down.

Tip:  Use active verbs to describe what you do.

2. Speak from the Heart.

Nothing makes more impact than real excitement.  If you talk about what you do with passion, others will feel it. If you don’t, they’ll feel it too.

So if you want to make a positive impact on someone, you don’t need to convince them to like what you do.  Just that you like it.

Positive energy is motivating and contagious. Negative energy is demotivating and toxic.

Tip: If you’re not excited about your current job, talk about something that does excite you. 

3. Lead with the Benefits.

  • Who do you help?
  • Why does it matter to you?
  • What does it look like?

How you help others and make a positive difference in the world inspires others. So lead with this.

It doesn’t matter if they can personally benefit from what you do.  But they might know someone who could, or remember you when they have a future need.

Again, don’t worry about choosing the right benefits to highlight – say which ones are meaningful to you.

Coming back to our 5th grade science teacher, let’s give it a try:

“I help kids develop a basic understanding of the world around them. A lot of 10 year olds don’t know why a bee flies from flower to flower, for example. By recognizing the beauty and purpose of nature I hope they develop a desire to live in harmony with it”. 

You could do the same for a financial planner who helps people understand the importance of investing so they feel secure about their future.

Tip: Of course some jobs are more colorful than others so you might need to engage your creative thinking skills to do this.

If have any doubts about your creative thinking skills, answer these 3 questions:

  1. As a team or group leader, how often do you need to switch perspectives to hear all sides, consider all arguments?
  2. When problem solving, how important is the ability to generate ideas?
  3. In these times of cost-cutting and over-stretched resources how important is it to be “resourceful” in your job?

Switching perspectives, generating ideas, stretching resources – if you do any of these things at work, you’re flexing your creativity muscles BIG TIME.


Nothing is more powerful than authenticity. If you speak from the heart, others will hear and feel what you say.

If you don’t, they might hear your words but they won’t feel them.

Approach your human interactions with this mindset and everything else will take care of itself.

Remember, if you want to make a good first impression, take the time to tell everyone what you do and why you do it.

Don’t forget the wise old adage – what goes around, comes around.

For help crafting your “Human Elevator Pitch”, contact me here.

Please share with me and my readers what you like most about your job?

  • Hey Tim,
    great article. It provides me with a new structure and might differentiate me from others especially on events where you have to talk about yourself a lot over and over again.
    Some people recommend to just talk about the results of your work, but I think it could also appear a bit presumptuous.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Tim!
    Best regards