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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.”

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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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    How to Make Better First Impressions in 60 Seconds

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    Published on May 18, 2021

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

    The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

    Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

    Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

    Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

    There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

    Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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    Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

    We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

    Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

    A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

    The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

    Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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    Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

    Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

    Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

    While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

    Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

    These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

    Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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    Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

    Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

    Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

    Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

    Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

    Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

    As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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    This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

    Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

    Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

    These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

    Actions Speak Louder Than Words

    Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

    Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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    Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

    More Tips Improving Listening Skills

    Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

    Reference

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