Have you ever been to a networking event where you had just 90 — sometimes 60 — seconds to speak in front of the group?
I've been attending these types of networking meetings for the past few years, and let me tell you: while 90 seconds doesn't seem like a long time at all, you'll be surprised what you can achieve in such a short time.
IF you deliver a proper elevator pitch, that is!
If you use those precious few seconds well, boy oh boy, you will be more memorable than the dude who paid an extra $10 to get 6 minutes of stage time.
So HOW do you make a big impact in 90 seconds or less? Consider putting your elevator pitch on steroids.
Here are my suggestions:
Invariably, the moderator will tell you to begin with your name and your company name. Don't! That's boring. Everybody's doing it. Everyone's thinking about their own little pitches.
So first, get their attention.
I like to ask questions. Or say one word, phrase, or sentence that leaves them wondering, “What about it? So what?”
Remember, if you leave your audience hanging, they'll sit up and open their ears. For example:
“72 percent.” (Pause to leave audience hanging)
“72 percent of Canadians with dementia are women.”
I knew that opening would grab the audience, because it was a networking group exclusively for women, after all.
Get your audience's attention first, make them care, and then you can tell them who you are. Because they'd be listening by then.
In these networking events, you usually have to sit for an hour or more waiting for everybody to get through their 90-second pitches.
I like to shake things up by getting the audience to move. I have them raise their hand, stand up, look in their purses, turn around to look at something at the back of the room — anything to get their blood flowing.
I figure, if they're moving, then they're probably awake enough to listen to me!
Everybody else is going to be a little stiff, a little nervous, speaking quietly into the microphone.
Don't be like everyone else!
Be the one who speaks loudly, clearly, energetically. Make big movements with your arms. Look around the room and make eye contact with as many people as you can.
Make your speech vigorous, too. Use short words and sentences. Stick to the active voice and drive your sentences with vibrant verbs. And if you can muster it, glow with pride.
Invigorate the affair with your energy and enthusiasm.
I don't care if you're shy, an introvert (I am), laid back, or normally quiet. Put on an act, if you must. If you're not willing to do this much to get your message across effectively, then save your time and money and stay home. It's only 90 seconds of being a cheerleader for your business or organization, for heaven's sake.
How do you make the audience listen to you? How do you make them care? By telling them what's in it for them. Focus on one or two key benefits of your product and service, and they will listen. They will care.
Skip the parts about how long your business has been around. Fast forward to how the audience will make money, save money, save time, attract the opposite sex, live happily ever after… you get the idea. The point is, make it about them, not you.
Now you've gotten your audience's attention. They've been listening. Some are drooling, imagining how much better their lives would be with your product or service.
Don't leave them hanging.
Wrap up your pitch by telling them what they should do next: Call a telephone number for a free quote? Visit your website? Grab the free pamphlets on your display table at the back of the room?
The next step may seem obvious to you, but it isn't. Not to the person who's been listening to 30 different presenters. Don't make them think; tell them what to do.
While we're at it, I'd like to point out a few things I see other people do that always make me cringe. These things can make you look unprofessional, unprepared, and just plain silly.
For the love of God, please don't do the following:
Having read this far, you're probably thinking that following all these tips requires a lot of preparation.
This little 90-second pitch may take you an hour or more to prepare for. You're delivering a speech that's short. That doesn't mean it's easy. If you want to make the most of the time you do have, create an impact, and be memorable, then you must put a lot of thought into your pitch.
And take heart, the more you do it, the better you'll get. Soon you'll have a library of powerful elevator pitches you can use, reuse, and repurpose, not just for events, but for other marketing materials as well. Most of this will become second nature.
Which of these tips do you find most challenging?
Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
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