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How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

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.”

    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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    How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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