In a rousing game of Catch Phrase last week with several of my coworkers, it dawned on me how difficult it can be to describe something quickly and succinctly (as in an elevator pitch). As public relations professionals, all week long we try to embody our clients’ vision and messaging in a mere sentence or two for the latest version of their website, or their new company descriptor for their next press release. But when trying to describe the simple objects and phrases that Catch Phrase presents, like a squirrel, Michael Jackson, or geography, all of a sudden we’re at a loss for words.
Some of the teams, however, seemed to be on the same wave length, only needing to say a couple words before they answered correctly. This is what we try to do universally in our work – describe our client or their offerings in a way that’s on the same wave length with their target audience. Luckily, we get more than just a few minutes to come up with these descriptions, but learning to describe an idea or thing quickly, in only a matter of words, is a true skill. We’ve all practiced it – taking that 2000 word article and cutting it down to 1200, or turning that entire marketing plan into a matter of a few slides. Whatever it may be, it’s a skill that needs constantly developed – and maybe Catch Phrase is the perfect way to practice!
But why, when we do this for a living, is it suddenly so difficult to describe something when this skill is set to a game? Perhaps it has to do with the manic beeping the electronic game emits that makes us wave our hands frantically as we try to spit out the right words before the time runs out. Or maybe we just need more practice. All I know is, when my coworker tried to describe that jungle man who swings from tree to tree, I wish I could’ve remembered Tarzan instead of embarrassingly shouting out his famous jungle cry.