“What’s an ideologist?” “Sound engineering is cool!” “WHAT’D YA SAY?” These are just a few common responses we’ve all heard after answering a simple question that begins many conversations with strangers: “So… what do you do?”
While our first response may be repeating with clear speech (I said I am an AU-DI-OL-O-GIST!), they probably have not heard the word and you’ve probably lost your conversation partner’s attention by this point. There are only about 14,000 audiologists in the U.S. despite there being over 30 million American with hearing loss, so it’s not a complete stretch to assert that audiology has a public awareness problem. Lack of general awareness combined with the common man’s/woman’s short attention span is hard to overcome. What if there’s a way for each of us to tackle both problems?
In the business world, an “elevator pitch” is used when you have a very limited amount of time (like riding in an elevator) to convey your point about a product, service, or cause. There are endless entrepreneurial resources and seminars dedicated to this topic; however, it all boils down to being passionate, interesting, and concise.
I once met an audiologist who, when asked about their chosen profession, responded with only three words: “I change lives.” While I would argue that particular elevator pitch is too concise, it’s certainly an interesting way to invite further conversation based on your passion.
Depending on your personality, there are lots of ways to approach an audiology elevator pitch. The most extroverted among us may opt for the “I change lives” mantra while others simply respond with “audiology” and move on. There is nothing inherently wrong with either approach, but I challenge you to do more. As members of a small healthcare profession we are the only people who are going to consistently speak up for audiology. Let’s start practicing!
Think about how to describe what we do without the word audiology. For example, a succinct descriptor like “I’m a doctor specializing in hearing and balance healthcare” or “I’m working on my doctorate in hearing and balance healthcare” can kick things off. Depending on the conversation opening, you could use that to segue into why you picked this profession or your main area of interest. Conclude with a memorable or personal reason for why you picked this field. You can certainly add the word audiology to your pitch, but it makes things more interesting to at least brainstorm without it.
Like any good elevator pitch, it’s critically important to practice what you’re going to say ahead of time to ensure you can deliver with confidence. Additionally, you must consider your audience and adjust accordingly. You want to be slightly more technical in your audiology elevator pitch to a Senator’s staff member than you would to the person sitting next to you at a bar during happy hour. I encourage you to find an elevator pitch that works for you—one that conveys your excitement to wake up every day and do what you do. How will you use your next opportunity to advocate for your profession?
Example elevator pitch for a student:
“I’m working on my doctorate in hearing and balance healthcare, primarily working with hearing technology. I love being able to come to work every day and see the difference I can make in someone’s life—I can’t believe there aren’t more of us.”
Revised elevator pitch for a student to an elected official:
“I’m working on my doctorate in audiology, which is hearing and balance healthcare. My primary interest is in hearing technology since my college major was engineering. I love being able to come to clinic every day and see the difference I can make in someone’s quality of life. That’s why I think it’s important to improve access to affordable student loan repayment options…” Find out what to say next.
Alex is a fourth-year AuD student at the University of Texas at Dallas and is completing his audiology externship at the Advanced Hearing Center in Sugar Land, Texas. He currently serves as the chair of the SAA Public Outreach Committee. His audiology interests include assistive technology, noise exposure, hearing healthcare public policy, tinnitus, practice management, and music perception.