Art of the Short Pitch

When I was learning to fly, my instructor pilot taught me to always know these things when I called the tower, meaning the air traffic controller:

• who I was
• where I was
• what I wanted.

I needed to quickly and succinctly tell the tower these things so they could give me what I wanted. You see, when you're talking to the tower, you're doing so because you need something from them. For instance, you need to land or you need to obtain information from them. The bottom line is you make sure they know the three things above so you can get what you want.

What Do You Want

If you're a writer or some other business person, promoting yourself is a matter of promoting your name, your brand, or your product. Usually, you want to do all three. Learning how to pitch yourself/your product helps you do that. There are scads of websites as well as print articles you can read to learn this, and there are speakers you can listen to who will present their take on this.

My Version

This past week, the art of the pitch was practiced hundreds of times by writers at the Romance Writers of America annual conference as they tried to interest editors, agents, and other writers in their manuscripts and themselves. So here's my version of the pitch, a 15 Second Pitch process based on my pilot training.


In a pitch, you want to get across your identity. That's the who you are combined with what you do. In the case of writers, it might be: I'm Joan Reeves, and I write romance flavored with humor. Or, I'm Joan Reeves, and I write effective and entertaining advertising copy for clients who appreciate articulate presentation of their business or products.


Where are you physically located, in relation to what you do? Include this if the information enhances your pitch, for instance, you're pitching to someone in your local area. Local booksellers like dealing with local authors. Local businesses like working with local freelance writers. Use your location if it's an asset.

Fortunately, if you're a freelance writer, location isn't much of an issue because the entire world is your client base. I've written for clients in Canada, Germany, England, Italy, Japan, and Australia.

What You Want

What you want is to promote yourself, your brand, your product, or your business. However, what you want should always be viewed as what you want to give because that's what you want to do for the person receiving your pitch. You want to give them something, and in return you'll get something you want.

Sometimes what you want to give may be information that will help them in some way. After all, that's what most blogs are all about: they give information to the reader. So the What You Want should be a win/win for you and the person receiving the pitch.

If I'm telling a potential client who I am and where I am then what I want is to give them the information that I can write effective copy for them and provide them with excellent content that will help promote their business or product.

Always Mutually Beneficial

If I'm talking to a librarian at my local branch, then I'm telling her the who and the where and the what I want might be that, as a local working writer, I can provide a presentation for the library on novel writing or Internet writing or publishing one's memoirs or on any number of topics since I've done them all. That's a benefit for me because I get exposure and a chance to promote my name, books, and brand. It's a benefit for the library because it gives them something to give visitors to the library.

Radio WIFM

I can't remember who the motivational speaker was (maybe Brian Tracy?) who said most people listen to radio WIFM, What's In It For Me. Everyone you talk to wants to know what's in it for me? A good read? Information? Something to help them promote their business whether that's a library, a commercial product, or a bookstore.

Takeaway Truth

Spend some time working on your 15 Second Pitch, and it may lead to more than Warhol's 15 Minutes of Fame.

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