Mary McCauley-Stiff of Five Star Writing sent Ilise this link on Marketing Profs (short for "marketing pros and professors", apparently) to a pretty great article called "The Myth of the Elevator Speech." You’ll have to sign up for the Marketing Profs (free) membership to read the whole article, but the gist of it is this: don’t let conventional wisdom get in the way of having a real conversation.
In other words, while it’s all very well and good to be able to summarize what you do in 20 words or less and have a snazzy, user-centric pitch, it’s also good to know when to back away from the marketing and just talk to someone. As the writer, marketing communications expert Doug Stern, points out, people aren’t always really asking the question "What do you do?" when they ask what you do; sometimes, they’re just making idle conversation. And no one wants to be pitched 24/7.
I have to say, I tend to agree. While it’s really important to have your verbal business card at the ready, sometimes it’s better to just relax and have a conversation.