Thursday, December 3, 2009
Elevator Speeches Part III - The Trap of Speaking Repeatedly
In Pt. I, we talked about turning the Elevator Speech into the Elevator Discussion. In Pt. II, we discussed how to create an Elevator Speech for a one-time only performance.
Today, we'll focus in on what is a common occurrence in today's world of networking: The Weekly Elevator Speech. Many of us are in clubs, organizations, chambers, or simply all-out networking groups that we attend weekly, or two to three times a month. While the one-time speech is a great 'Icebreaker' to get you noticed, it won't be as effective the next time, though if it was memorable it may lead to a running theme (you may be repeatedly referred to as The Vampire, for example).
The trap most people get caught in is giving the same information week after week, arguing that its new information to any new people attending. Unfortunately, in the typical networking group, that means boring 90-plus percent of the rest of the group, to the point that they tune you out, and minimize your value. That's no way to turn them into your advocates in the business community.
Others make the mistake of constantly pitching their product, announcing their big sale, or otherwise selling. This is a cue to many to hit that internal mute button everytime you open your mouth.
It's not as hard as you think to come up with a unique one-minute speech 40-50 times a year. Consider these five basic principles as you look to offer your audiences something new on a consistent basis:
1. It's About You
In a longer term situation, it's fine for you to talk about you. What you did last weekend. Your kids. A success story from your business. You have hundreds of stories from your life, with new ones coming up each day, if you are on the lookout for them.
This is your weekly opportunity to open the shutters of your life, to build trust, and create people who will tell other that you are a valuable person, as well as a valuable business.
If you've created a moniker that helps people remember you, like "The Vampire", "The Computer Commando", or the "Vacationeer" - use it each week. If that's all they remember that day, that's enough, because it's YOU.
2. It's Still About Them
After the story, you want to related it to them. Statements such as "Have you found yourself in that situation?", "Do you know anyone who", or "If you'd like to save yourself some trouble..." all bring your audience to a state of mind of how they relate to what you've said.
If you've told an outlandish story, like my lawyer friend who talks about his days working in the Fire Department and adopting a dog to train to find hazardous accelerants, use a parallel transition, such as "I was creative then, I'm creative now - finding solutions is what I do". Transferring skill concepts is a great way to bring the audience back around to what you have to offer them.
3. Sell with Caution
Most people don't want to be pitched at a networking meeting - its a social event, not a swap meet. If you have a new product, announce it, and offer it with a discount. Give out samples (especially if you're one of those Healthy Chocolate people, hint hint).
Don't sell in consecutive meetings, but if someone bought last week, thank them. This makes them feel good (assuming they were happy with the transaction), and adds to your credibility.
4. Use Humor
When you get the audience laughing magical things happen. They like you more, they pay more attention, both that day and in the future, and you may just get some extra time. No need to be a comedian, but telling stories that have a touch of humor will certainly endear you to the crowd.
5. Sharpen Your Skills
No matter your content, if you aren't delivering it well you'll still be subject to the mute button. Humor without timing and strong vocal variety will fall flat. Most importantly, you'll lose credibility if you don't speak with confidence. Even if you are successful in your business because you offer great service, you will always be cutting off a portion of your audience (read: potential customers) with poor presentation skills. Join a Toastmasters club, or find a coach.
Follow these guidelines, and you'll avoid the traps so common today - and you'll actually start wishing other would avoid them too. You can always send them here!
Can you think of other examples when you'd need to give an Elevator Speech? Let me know, and we'll either discuss them in the comments, or address them in a new post.
Now get out and start networking - and remember to Speak...& Deliver!