Building a Better Elevator Pitch: 7 Tips for Brief, Punchy Personal and Company Descriptions

As the old saying goes, brevity is the soul of wit.

This is true even if you’re not composing a laugh riot. Follow these seven best practices to compose a brief, punchy personal or company description that tells your audience everything it needs to know and nothing it doesn’t.

  1. Hone Your “Power Sentence”

Your personal or company description only gets one chance to make a great first impression, and the “power sentence” is it.

If at all possible, limit your power sentence to 160 characters or less — not coincidentally, the rough length of your Twitter and Medium bios, and the visible length of your meta description in organic search engine results.

  1. Go Easy on the Adverbs & Adjectives

Adverbs and adjectives generally work at cross-purposes to anything “brief” or “punchy.” Work in only as many as you need to tell your story; don’t get bogged down in superfluous modifiers that only make you seem self-important.

  1. Tell Your Audience Why They Should Care Early

Beyond the “power sentence,” your personal or company description should convey as much actionable, relevant information as possible upfront.

Bear in mind that what you believe is important and what’s objectively useful for your audience isn’t always the same thing. There’s no place for modesty in short, punchy descriptions, regardless of your personal proclivities.

For instance, the third sentence of the Wikipedia entry for film producer David Mimran’s father reads, “[t]he Swiss business magazine BILANZ has listed Mimran as one of the 300 richest people in Switzerland, with a wealth of CHF 2 billion.” No one will accuse the writer of that sentence of modesty, but that doesn’t change the salience of Mimran’s wealth (and the helpfulness of the context).

  1. Practice in Front of the Mirror

We’ve focused on written descriptions thus far, but remember that you’ll be verbalizing a version of your personal or company description ad nauseam at networking events, trade shows, sales presentations, job interviews, you name it. Practicing your pitch in front of the mirror is a great way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Check the Five W’s

Before you close the books on your personal or company description, check the five W’s: who, what, why, where, and when. It’s distressingly easy to forget a “W” or two when you’re describing something you live and breathe. Those learning about you and your company for the first time are by definition unaware of these details.

  1. Work in a Value Statement, But Don’t Let It Dominate

One of the exceptions to the minimal adverb/adjective rules involves value statements: that is, the portion(s) of your description focusing on your personal and professional beliefs, mission, guiding light. Your value statement adds a crucial human element to your story — a potential difference-maker in a competitive marketplace.

  1. Keep It Professional

In particular, make sure it’s free of grammatical or spelling errors. Check it for flow — have someone read it back to you, if that helps. And excise any content that can be considered remotely controversial, unless it’s inseparable from your work.

Punch Up Your Personal & Professional Brand

Follow these seven best practices and you’ll be well on your way to punching up your personal and/or professional brand. But don’t call it good until you’ve tackled one last challenge: infusing your personal or company description with at least one healthy dash of humor, levity, or whatever passes for personality in your neck of the woods. Your audience won’t miss it — and they might just reward you for the effort. As they say, brevity…

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