Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable

Like many industries, the fitness industry speaks a language all its own. And while it may be second nature to you, the language of behavior change, anatomy, physiology and program design may be completely new to participants and clients, not to mention those folks you’re trying to connect with who have not yet bought into the concept of working with you.

So, how do you explain exactly what you do in a clear and concise way without getting bogged down with jargon or complex terminology?

First, let’s toss out the very notion of the traditional elevator speech. An elevator speech reflects the idea that you should be able to sum up what you do and impress someone enough to hire you in the time it takes an elevator to travel a few floors. The trouble is, no one likes listening to or giving these quick, overly prepared presentations, and they’re not really meant to be used in a service industry like ours.

So, what’s the replacement? Meaningful conversation.

A conversation that is personalized to the individual you’re talking to will spark curiosity about how you can help them pursue their health- and wellness-related goals, whatever they may be. This conversation should be dynamic and lively, covering how you can specifically help them overcome obstacles and challenges, what you bring to the table and the results they can expect from working with you.

And be sure to speak in a language that the listener will understand. For example, instead of saying, “I use client-centered behavior-change strategies to empower clients to set and achieve SMART goals that will improve their overall health and wellness while avoiding relapse,” a health coach might say, “I talk with clients about their goals and why those goals are important to them, and then collaborate to develop a program that will replace bad habits with good ones and lead to long-term lifestyle change.”

Another important tip is to stop dropping your profession or title into this type of conversation. If a potential client or participant asks, “What do you do?” a response of, “I’m a health coach [or personal trainer or group fitness instructor],” may elicit a polite nod or feigned understanding. If they are a true newcomer to the world of fitness, they may have no idea what that job title actually means. Instead, saying something like, “I work with people to empower them to achieve weight loss, improved function and other health-related goals,” or “I work with young athletes to help them improve their performance,” will likely trigger a curious response and lead to meaningful dialogue.

Finally, ditch the scripts. Overly prepared, bland and generic pitches will only turn away potential clients and participants. Think back to who you serve and why you serve them. That information should inform every conversation you have with potential customers. Smile, make eye contact, speak from the heart, be confident and listen to what the other person has to say. Remember, it’s not about pitching your services. Instead, it’s about listening to each person’s needs, values and objectives, and using your education, experience and passion to illustrate how you can help them meet their goals.

Shannon is a certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach providing information based on the BYS System.