When you actually should care

Nov 19 2015

“I don’t care” were the words that helped The Constituents group form its pitch.

Caroline Lamb and Mariah Barksdale provide an updated edition of their pitch to the Lab. (Photo taken by Amulya Uppalapati.)

Caroline Lamb and Mariah Barksdale provide an updated edition of their pitch to the Lab. (Photo taken by Amulya Uppalapati.)

When my teammates, Mariah Barksdale and Whitney Harris, and I initially worked on the pitch script, it was very focused around the wrong audience. Our product is a publication that is tailored toward the communication needs of politicians in order to help them figure out what their community feels about certain issues. But our pitch was all about the constituents and about how they could spend time submitting their complaints, and we would use that feedback to develop our stories.

“I don’t care about what the constituents want,” is what John Clark, the executive director of the Lab, and Sara Peach, the associate director of the Lab, had been telling us from the beginning. So in our pitch practice when we talked about the dropbox aspect of our product, where community members can submit comments, we heard it: “I don’t care.”

“I don’t care” is what helped us realize that we were speaking in terms of what we wanted our product to do or what our product aimed to do, not about what our product would do. “I don’t care” is what helped us take out a bunch of overly specific information about collecting article ideas that was difficult to relay to the audience.

“I don’t care” is what Wesley Hitson, a Lab intern, told us when we included too many numbers in our pitch, and “I don’t care” is what allowed us to chop a ton of information out of our pitch in order to provide a clearer view of the information people actually would care about.

I am simultaneously excited and terrified to pitch. On the one hand, I love our product and I love the things people have told us about our product. I love getting lunch with my group, planning on who is doing the coffee runs, and walking up to strangers in parking garages in order to seek out information (thanks for being a trooper and doing this with me, Mariah). On the other hand, every time I practice pitching in front of the whole Lab group, my hands shake and I stumble over the words that I had just spent an hour reciting perfectly over and over. Whitney and Mariah assure me that I do not sound as bad as I think I do. They’re really nice people.

John said if you’re nervous, it means you care. This is when I’m actually supposed to care. There are some days when I have to talk in front of people and it’s nothing. But how could I not care about The Constituents? We have spent a semester on this, we have spoken to a plethora of government officials, and we want to help them and in turn, help the community. Our pitch is our first step in helping them because we have to convince people that yes, this is exactly what people need. And we are going to give them that, and they will care.


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