Can you explain what you do online – and why – in 3 minutes? How about in 30 seconds?Elevator buttons

Web people often feel frustrated that

  • Their top management doesn’t understand the value of web
  • Their editors continually forget who the target groups for the website are
  • Their own boss thinks that updating an entire section on the intranet should take no more than 10 minutes

It can be very tiring to have to explain the same things over and over again. But have you stopped to look at how you reply and respond to people? Are you speaking their language? Could it be done in a simpler way?

The challenge of pitching the website or intranet to internal stakeholders often comes up in our community of practice meetings. Here are a couple of examples of elevator pitches I collected from a recent meeting:

Moving our printed documents online brings us two extra benefits: Speed – we can communicate and react faster – and statistics – we have useful details on how the information is actually being used. However, these extra benefits also require extra work, so making the shift is never 1-1 in workload, but rather a factor 3.

Remember that we are not making a website for you as local departments, but for our customers”.

Short, concise and goes to root of the issue, don’t you think?

In designing your elevator pitch, you can draw inspiration from some of the lessons learned about communicating with internal stakeholders, also shared in the recent group meeting:

  • Use common, every-day terms instead of fancy web talk such as “governance” and “content strategy” to avoid getting blank stares.
  • Sometimes fancy words might be useful, though, depending on your target audience. Try naming a project “process optimization”. That kind of language resonated with management for one our members, who was consequently able to get the funding he needed.
  • Think strongly about naming your project “redesign”, as people tend to think of “re-“ as brand new (i.e. a big expensive project) and “design” as pretty colours (i.e. not providing real value).
  • Say “thank you” to people when they take the time to give you their input. Even though you might think that correcting that spelling mistake on some page deeply buried in the navigation is a waste of time when you have complex projects going on.
  • Keep a public to-do-list of tasks planned for the web or intranet for the next 6 months that you can refer to when people don’t understand why you can’t correct the spelling mistake right now. When projects are completed, turn the to-do-list into an achievement list.

What does your elevator pitch look like?