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How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

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How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

Did you know people today are suffering from INFObesity? They don’t want more information; they want to be intrigued and they want to be intrigued quickly. If you don’t say something in that single, crucial minute of your elevator pitch that gets their eyebrows up, they’ve already checked out, and that means your idea, organization, or cause will never succeed at the level it deserves.

Do you have clear, concise, and compelling responses that impress potential clients, employers, and sponsors? Does your opening pitch or paragraph capture people’s favorable attention and motivate them to keep reading and say, “Tell me more?”

Our goal is to turn one-way communication into two-way communication. Another way to do that is to create commonality by turning me, me, me into we, we, we.

A bright, talented 20-something was the one who role-modeled this for me. I was on a speaking tour with my sons and we had the night free. We went downstairs to the hotel lobby and asked the concierge what he suggested. He took one look at my teen-aged sons and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

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We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about.

I asked him what D&B’s was, and this smart young man didn’t even try to explain: he knew intuitively that would only have confused the issue. He could have said, “Well, it’s kind of like a sports bar. But it’s more than that; it also has an indoor amusement park with video games and stuff. And the restaurant has pool tables but they also have…” but the longer he’d have talked, the more confused we would have become.

Instead, he asked a qualifying question: “Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese?” My sons nodded enthusiastically. He smiled and said, “D & B’s is like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.” Bingo.

We then knew exactly what it was and we wanted to go there, all because this bright young man had a) asked a question that got relevant information and b) linked his response to what we just said. They should have put him on commission.

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Monologue vs. Dialogue

That encounter yielded the following epiphany: the purpose of an elevator pitch is NOT to tell people what you do—that’s a monologue. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a meaningful conversation—that’s a dialogue. The next time someone asks you what you do, use this disruptive approach to turn a boring elevator pitch into bonding connection.

How Can I Bond With Someone in the First 60 Seconds of Meeting Them?

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    “There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who walk into a room and say ‘Here I am’ and those who walk into a room and say, ‘There you are.’” – Ann Landers

    Here’s my favorite example that shows the power of turning an elevator speech into an elevator connection: I was asked to speak at the 2008 INC.500/5000 conference, along with fellow authors and speakers Jim Collins of Good to Great , Seth Godin of Linchpin and Tribes, Michael Gerber of E-Myth, Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence, and Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week. My workshop was on how to POP! Your Communication—in particular, how to POP! the first 60 seconds of any communication to win people’s attention, respect, trust, and business.

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    My session was one of the top-ranked sessions because we focused on how to introduce yourself in a way that turned strangers into friends and clients. I asked Colleen, Entrepreneur of the Year for her state, what it was she did.

    After a couple of minutes of references to centralized medical diagnostic services—scanning devices, etc.—no one in the room had any idea what she did. This was not a trivial issue: she was surrounded by several hundred of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, yet none of them understood what she did. That meant they wouldn’t be walking up to her afterwards to continue the conversation. They didn’t relate to her or remember her, which meant they wouldn’t be referring people to her or exploring possible strategic partnerships. Think of the millions of dollars in lost opportunities. That’s what happens (or what doesn’t happen) every time we introduce ourselves and people don’t get or want what we do.

    Making the Connection

    If we don’t connect in the first couple minutes, we’re probably not going to connect at all. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a better way to introduce yourself starting today.

    I asked Colleen what she did that we we can see (pointing to my eyes), smell (pointing to my nose), taste (pointing to my mouth) and touch, (pointing to my hands). She asked why that was important. I told her that those questions switch focus from the means—trying to explain how electricity works—to the end results: how people use and/or benefit from what happens in the real world.

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    Colleen thought about it for a moment and said, “I run medical facilities that offer MRIs and CT scans.”

    That reply was better because now we could see what she was talking about. Medical equipment, MRIs, and CT scans exist in the real world—they’re not just conceptual neck-up rhetoric. But we’re not going to stop there, because if someone just told people that, they’d just say “Oh.” An “Oh’ is better than a “huh?” because it means people now understand what job is being done, but there’s still no personal relationship. It’s still a one-way monologue instead of a two-way dialogue. Turn that into a question—using The Power of Three— that engages them and prompts them to give you relevant information that’s pertinent to your line of work.

    She asked what the Power of Three Was.

    I explained; “If you ask a question using only one point of reference, such as ‘Have you ever had an MRI?’ and that person says, ‘No’, the discussion is over. Instead, ask: ‘Have you, a friend or a family member ever had an MRI or a CT scan?’ Giving three points of reference increases the odds that people will come back with a personal experience such as, ‘Yeah, my daughter hurt her knee playing soccer and had an MRI.’ Now, relate what you do to what that person just said. ‘Well, I run the medical facilities that offer MRIs like the one your daughter had when she hurt her knee.”

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    That elevator intro will raise people’s eyebrows: they’ll be intrigued because they’re picturing a way they’ve used or benefitted from what you do. This has taken under 60 seconds, yet they could describe what you do to other people, turning them into a word-of-mouth ambassador. And, if they’re ever in the market for an MRI or CT scan, they’re a lot more likely to contact you, because people like to do business with those they know and like.

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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