This post is by Heba Chehade. Heba is currently a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration) student in the Manchester Business School.
I was at a social gathering recently and I was asked about my research.
It is usually easy for me to share information with others about my interests, career, life, etc. but evidently, I am not so good when it comes to explaining my research. When asked by party guest number 1 what my research was about I said, ‘my research is about social innovation…’ BLANK.
So my explanation clearly needed some adjustment.
To party guest number 2 I elaborated, ‘my research is about finding solutions to the financial and social problems we are experiencing…’ STILL BLANK.
Maybe third time’s a charm? To party guest number 3, ‘my research is about Strategy and Innovation, with more focus on the business side of things…’ BLANK AGAIN.
And so it continued as I tried to avoid the dreaded question.
I was worried. Getting people excited and interested in my research is essential if I want to make an impact beyond my immediate research community. Why is it much easier to describe what I ‘do’ for a living but not what I research? Is it because I am just starting out as a researcher? Is making a strong impression an unrealistic expectation at this point?
In a highly connected and impatient world, we should be able to share, in no longer than 30 seconds, enough information about our research to be understood by anyone who will listen, whilst also making a good impression. So I started thinking about ways in which I could communicate my research and the impression I want people to be left with. I remembered hearing about the ‘mini-elevator pitch’.
I discovered that the researchers in the Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences have used elevator pitches to share information about their research with high school students. You can even watch some of these pitches online!
One of the approaches to producing an elevator pitch is to use a question. In my case, it could be something like,
You know how people, organisations and countries seek new ways to solve important economic or societal problems like unemployment, health, education and poverty? Well, my research is about exploring these new initiatives and how people, organisations and countries come together to implement them and the impact that this has on the people they are looking to help.
Will this help me when I’m next asked the dreaded question? Maybe.
To be tested soon at a social gathering near you.Have you struggled with this in the past? How do you answer the dreaded question? Have you tried the elevator pitch? Reply to Heba below…