How many times have you been caught off-guard when a stranger asks what you do for work?

Describing your work can be a very difficult task. Do you paint a picture of the amazing programs or services your nonprofit provides? Do you speak about the impact on the communities you serve? Or perhaps you share specifically about your own role in the organization and the many hats that you wear?

Every day we are certain to meet new people, however most of us never consciously craft a succinct way to answer the question that leaves our listeners wanting to learn more.

In order to resolve this scenario for myself, this week I participated in the One Minute Message training from our friends at Mission Minded. This method, which is similar to an “elevator pitch” designed for nonprofits, is crafted to provide just enough about your organization without getting too deep in the details. The result is one shares just enough to pique the interest of a listener and creates opening to a deeper conversation.

The best part is the One Minute Message is as easy as playing a game of Mad Libs. All you need to do is add missing pieces, and the message practically writes itself!

A key is that you want to describe the benefits, not the features. For example, as an arts organization you might share the end result you have on the kids, not the way you deliver, whether it be an after-school program or thousands of volunteer hours each year.

To get started, you use the following structure of the One Minute Message:

[Name of Organization] believes [Deeply Held Value]. Every day, we [Verb] [Object] for [Constituents], because [Problem Statement].

The result looks may look like this:

“Performing Arts Workshop believes that arts education teaches critical thinking skills that are vital in a 21st century economy. Every day, we teach art in schools for a whole generation of kids – especially poor kids, because without it they’ll be unprepared for work and life.”

How great is that?!

A good One Minute Message will always point to problem you are trying to solve. It will reminds your audience why they should care and must highlight the impact of your work.

Remember: you don’t need to say everything in your minute. This is your opportunity to get a conversation started.

What do you think about the One Minute Message? Does it make you think differently about how to share about your organization?