Probably more often than you think. Even if you don't actively promote your business (why not?) then just in the course of day to day activities you'll be asked this question time and time again. Perhaps when meeting someone for the first time socially, or chatting idly to a stranger at a bus stop.
Everytime you are asked this question it's an opportunity to promote your classes, be they fitness classes, dance classes or martial arts, and/or anything else you do for that matter.
Yet so often, we are caught out and mumble an unprepared, sometimes even flippant response; "Oh this and that", "I teach dance to people who will probably never be able to master walking!", "... (something) ... classes ... (mumble) ... fit". Even the more confidant replies will be limited to "Oh I teach dance", "I'm a martial arts instructor". Is that enough? Maybe, but you could still be missing out on potential class members by not opening up a bit.
I recommend that you prepare an opening statement about what you do. It's quick and easy to prepare and should be no longer than about 15 seconds.
Once prepared; that is written down, timed and rehearsed, then take the time to learn it so that it flows off the tongue naturally when the opportunity presents itself. Practice on friends, family or even the dog. If you make a mistake, don't start again, just carry on and blag it because that's a good thing to practice too!
So what should it contain?
Your 15 Seconds
In short, your 15 seconds should clearly state what you do (as specifically as possible), where and when you do it and, if time, who you do it for. Even better,include key selling points as well.
As an example, let's take a Fitness Instructor who only does Zumba classes:
"I'm a Zumba instructor. Most nights of the week I run really lively Latin dancercise classes for anyone who wants to get fit while having fun at village halls and community centres in and around Poole and Bournemouth." (Approx 12 seconds)
Let's break it down.
"I'm a Zumba instructor" - Being specific in this way instead of simply saying "Fitness Instructor" means that you are immediately giving the person you are talking to the opportunity to think whether that is something that would interest them and/or anyone they know.
"Most nights of the week" - Now they know that your classes are in the evening.
"I run really lively" - Sell it baby!
"Latin dancercse" - just in case there is anyone left in the world who hasn't heard of Zumba and doesn't know what it is.
"classes for anyone who wants to get fit" - explaining that you are after people looking to lose weight, get fit, tone up, etc. rather than people who want to learn to dance an Argentine Tango.
"while having fun" - never be afraid to sell yourself and what you do. You've worked and trained hard to get to this point.
"at village halls and community centres" - gives a sense as to the type of atmosphere and facilities they can expect.
"in and around Poole and Bournemouth." - and where. Perhaps they are local, perhaps they know someone who is.
They will now be thinking about people they know who like Zumba or have thought about trying Zumba in your area!
But what if you teach a wider variety of classes? Well the same principals apply and you fit what you can into the 15 seconds. If you have to cut out some of what you do you can choose to focus on the ones you want to promote the most OR make a judgement about the person you are talking to and tailor your 15 seconds accordingly.
Let's look at a martial arts instructor teaching 3 or 4 different styles; kickboxing (new class for beginners), Kali (established but numbers could be higher), Ju Jitsu (established and busy) and Tai Chi (established and with older class members), and speaking to a young man he's just been introduced to:
"I'm a martial arts instructor teaching Kickboxing for beginners on Friday nights at the Upton Community Centre, Ju Jitsu on Wednesdays in Oakdale, and a really exciting stick fighting class on Sat mornings in Poole Sports Centre."
Had he been talking to an older person, he may have chosen to lead with the Tai Chi.
Put this into practice and it's only a matter of time before people begin to say things like, "Oh I have a friend that was thinking of trying..." or "I've always wanted to try something like that", or "That's interesting. What time is your .... class on Wednesdays?"