It is pretty sad to report that all too many companies I meet struggle with clearly expressing what they are doing, how it works and why it matters. All too often I find myself in conversations where I have to ask: What is it exactly that you are doing? How does this work? Which problem does this solve again?
Sometimes I question my own intellect — but then I see other people react with the same confused look on their faces.
I can not stress enough how paramount it is that you can formulate a clear, concise, non-convoluted explanation of your company and what you’re doing. You don’t get points for turning your pitch into a scientific paper or a beautiful play on language. Nor does anyone give you kudos for using as many buzzwords as you can in a single sentence.
And it has far bigger implications than just your conversations with partners and funders — if you can’t express in easy to understand words what you’re doing, how do you expect your team to be aligned? Every little blip of ambiguity makes people fill in the blanks with what they think is the right answer. Which more often than not, leads to disjunct efforts, strategy misalignment, confusion, and frustration. Not to mention that it keeps you from winning the game you’re in.
My personal litmus test is that if I can’t explain it to the person in front of me in the line at my favorite coffee shop, it’s not clear enough. And I do test my work that way — every interaction with a new person gives me a chance to try out my pitch and see if they get it.