Sometimes, talking about your work as an artist or creative professional can be excruciatingly hard. This month we're exploring Community Building: what it takes to meet new people and open the doors to opportunity in a natural, genuine way.
Trust us, when we first started Kind Aesthetic it sometimes paralyzed us when we had to pitch our work to someone. The reason why? Because it was new and didn't make sense to us, yet. And that notion of believing in your work, understanding what your work means to you, why you do it, and what effect is has on your audience will lead to effective ways to summarize your work for networking purposes. Without clarity surrounding your unique story, it's going to be hard.
Having both learned from personal experiences and having witnessed so many amazing people sabotage an opportunity by stumbling on their words, being incoherent, or not giving their work enough credit, we knew it was time to take action. So, we developed a DELVE Workshop on the topic of the elevator pitch.
We got the chance to work with a big group of amazing artists at the Transcultural Exchange Conference in Boston this past February. We walked them through an exercise, and admittedly, not every person was a believer at first. We asked them to write the answers to some simple questions: What does your work look like? Why do you make it? What is it about? What inspires you? Artists were wondering how these words would translate to a verbal pitch.
The beauty behind this simple exercise is that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room had a unique answer. So, everyone's elevator pitch was going to be different off the bat, right? WRONG!
The first few tries were full of artists saying things like:
I am a painter who works in New York City.
So? Who cares?! There are a million of you. How are you unique?
I make colorful oil paintings about the environment.
Better, but not quite, because that woman in the brown shirt over there just said the same thing.
We just kept digging and pushing and finally, most people had an aha moment where they realized that they could summarize what they do in one sentence in a clear way, by describing their work visually and adding a brief statement about the conceptual drive or subject matter behind their work. They had just written it all down at the beginning of the workshop. The goal of your pitch is to be specific enough to be memorable and open doors.
The true test was getting up and practicing how to talk about their answers to their peers. How do you translate these big concepts and visual work into a short pitch? It's NOT easy but this exercise is vital to opening up doors of opportunity.
The results of the workshop were:
- each artist spoke their elevator pitch at least ten times in a row to different people, which meant lots of practice and getting over that anxiety fast
- each artist left with a stronger sense of how to talk about what they do and why they are unique
- many people exclaiming: "this was the best workshop of the whole conference!"