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Why (and How) to Create Your Migraine “Elevator Pitch"

A woman with migraine using an elevator pitch to help her colleagues understand what living with the condition is like
Getty Images / SDI Productions

Danielle Fancher shares the most effective way she communicates her migraine story in a world where migraine is often misunderstood.

In college I took a course called “Brand Called Me.” The class was one credit and quite high-level, but it taught me one of the most valuable lessons of college: I learned how to create my own personal elevator pitch.

I had to ask myself what I really wanted to get across to potential employers. What are my strengths? Why am I the right candidate? What makes me the best option among a sea of other candidates with similar credentials? How can I wrap ME into a few short sentences? The process was intense, intimidating, and insightful.

How is it relevant to migraine? I learned that how I present myself and what I choose to share matters. This thinking helped me home in on the most effective way to communicate my migraine story to the world.

I have A LOT to say about migraine. I even wrote a memoir about my experience. But I don’t expect everyone to read a book to understand my story on this misunderstood illness.

An elevator pitch helps me to share my key messages in a concise, impactful, and memorable way. Here’s a look at how I created my migraine elevator pitch.

Decide what’s most important to communicate about your illness

I want to communicate that migraine is real. It’s sad to say. But I genuinely feel that people don’t believe migraine is a real illness. I know that I only have a few seconds to convince them otherwise.

I want them to know that migraine is so much more than excruciating head pain. Migraine is also brain fog. It’s exhaustion. It’s weights pulling down your head. It’s numbness in your fingers. It’s not thinking as quickly as you’d like. It’s constantly feeling off.

It’s my responsibility to speak in a way that makes people take migraines seriously.

Decide what’s most important to communicate about YOU

It’s important that I communicate that I’m sick. Sometimes I need to leave a work or an event due to my pain. I want the other people to have context for my disappearance.

I don’t want pity or sympathy. My aim is never to complain.

Write it down — and keep it concise

Now that I had the basics for my pitch. I knew I needed to keep it concise.

People have short attention spans. You may have just a few seconds to get your message across before the other person checks out.

I recommend focusing on the essentials. Keep the rest of your thoughts and opinions in your back pocket should the other person have questions.

Here’s my migraine elevator pitch:

“I’ve had migraines since the age of 16. I have been chronic since 20. On October 2, 2013, I went to a networking event like any other. By the time I got home, a migraine was in full blast. The next morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. That same migraine pain lasted for a few more weeks, then a few months. Years later, I still experience that constant pain.

My constant migraine pain hasn’t stopped. Every single day is hard. But when you are in pain for this long, you have to figure out how to get out of bed. Some days it’s impossible. I’ve worked hard for years to figure out how to live with constant pain.

Today I am making a solid effort every single day to make sure that I am living fully, even though my pain has not stopped and it has not become any easier to bear.”

It’s not easy for us to share this information. Many of us hide our pain because we frequently hear upsetting responses, or because people just don’t get it. Some of us may even fear negative consequences at work, school, or in our relationships. But it’s important to share this side of yourself. Just be prepared for a response that you might not want to hear.

My hope is that we’ll start to change perspectives as more migraine sufferers start to share their stories with the world. One elevator pitch at a time.

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for caregivers or the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 


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