Biz4NJ Expert on Communications
CEO, Comprehensive Communications Services
It seems like a nice professional gathering. They all seem like nice people. But the axe falls. The association leader stands up before the group and says, “Why don’t we all go around the room and introduce ourselves? Just give your name and company and if you want, tell a little bit about what you do. Jim, (he points to you) why don’t you start us off?”
Instantly, every muscle in Jim’s frame clenches. His internal voice goes “Oh gawd. What do I say? This is my one chance to sell my entire livelihood. There are probably big potential clients watching - listening to my every word. Is my tie straight? Oh sh—t, my throat is tightening up!” In one sense, Jim’s anxiety is justified. That initial verbal introduction is his first impression and branding moment that can make or break a potential sale. While it need not be an ulcer generating speech, neither should it be tossed off thoughtlessly.
The 30 – 60 second introduction, most commonly used at networking meetings, is a business presentation. Most recently known as the “elevator speech,” this is your business commercial, or your presentation “short form.” Seasoned communicators know that when it comes to advertising, “less is more,” yet it often takes more time to create that reduced and refined message.
Here are some guidelines to help you develop your future intro-presentations.
* Refrain from starting with “I,” and your name. Try saying your name at the end of this “speech.” This arrests them instantly with what you offer, instead of trying to make an instant personal connection. They want to know what you can do for them. So, Replace: I’m Pete Smith, and I’m in the home improvement business... With: Home Improvement is my business. I’m Pete Smith.
* Start with the WIIFM factor. People are more interested in What’s In It For Me - how you can help them, than your name or the name of the business. Replace: XYZ Plumbing is my business, We fix leaks and restore frozen pipes. I’m… With: If your pipes freeze or your toilet tank leaks, you’ll want a reliable plumber. XYZ Plumbing is reliable and ready to fix your plumbing problems. I’m Jim Carver. Note that in a few seconds, Jim has connected with these people through a common problem - one they all relate to (and dread) - and Jim has furthered the connection by offering a solution - his service.
* Develop a Tag Line. A tag line is a phrase that captures the core of your business and helps differentiate yours from the competitors. For example, there are many bookkeeping companies who do good work. Perhaps the tagline will be help you decide which business to choose. Consider these tagline openings: We’re the King of Quickbooks! CEO Bookkeeping. Quicker than Quicken & Quickbooks: Up-to-date Bookkeeping!! Quicker than the Speed of Light: Super-personal Bookkeepers, Inc.
* Don’t Memorize. Memorizing your elevator speech can make you sound rehearsed and stilted. Better to develop some options and play with the order of your WIFFM, tagline, business type, and name. For example: a. If you’d rather die than make a speech, don’t call 911, call CCS. Comprehensive Communication Services is the speech business for Speaking that Connects! I started CCS 30 years ago (gulp). I’m Eileen Sinett.
b. Promoting confidence and clarity in Speakers Worldwide is what my business is all about. Check out my website: www.speakingthatconnects.com I’m Eileen Sinett. I’ll help you improve your accent,language and/or presentation.
c. Whether you are afraid to present or want to bring your presenting to the next level excellence, CCS, Comprehensive Communication Services, can help. My mission is to promote confident speakers with clear messages. Call me, I’m Eileen Sinett, President of CCS.
In several of the above examples, note the effectiveness of leaving your name until the tail end. People in business hear hundreds of names daily. If you introduce the name first, and then hook the audience on the service, many of them will have forgotten the name by your speech’s end. By leading with a hook and finishing with the name, however, you’ve peaked the interest, and made sure the last thing they remember is you.
A few final words about anxious Jim and anyone else out there who has felt similarly ill-at-ease at the thought of self-promoting introductions: a potent elevator pitch doth not alone make you a magnet for business. To attract people to your business, your words must be balanced with genuine likeability, ease in self-expression and the energy of your unique personal presence. Now that’s what I call, speaking that connects! Biz4NJ
Eileen N. Sinett has been coaching corporate leaders to speak long before the business community saw it as a necessity. The eldest of seven children, Sinett grew up the daughter of an ever-inventive and successful entrepreneur. “Trucks were always in the driveway from his trucking firm, or canteens and camping gear in the garage from his Army surplus business. My father always had some new business starting up,” Sinett recalls. Leaving this stimulating home environment, Sinett attended Emerson College, earning a bachelor’s in speech pathology and audiology, followed by a Master’s in speech correction from Kean College. This clinical background led her to work first at Roosevelt hospital, then the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She soon became UMDNJ’s director of communication services, training a staff of pathology students. In 1979, Sinett left to found Comprehensive Communication Services. “Originally, my first clients were those with speech disabilities, and parochial school parents, interested in their children’s elocution. But somewhere in the early 1980’s, business people began coming in,” she says. At first they wanted to loose accents or just speak grammatically. Then it was as if the whole business world awoke to the advantage of effective communication. Today, Sinett mentors executives and teams from such clients as Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Company, Delsys Pharmaceuticals, Mathematica Policy Research, as well as several politicians and professionals.