How to perfect your sixty-second pitch for the next time you go to Networking Events
Guest Article by Dr Simon Raybould
The Colon Technique (punctuation: not your gut!)
Remember it?! The moment when you’ve got to give ‘the pitch’… credibility and even sales hang on how you do in the next 60 seconds. It might be that moment over coffee… other times it’s the feared ‘introduction round’ at a networking event – perhaps one you’ve forced yourself to go to.
You might even have paid to go!
Other times it’s a party (or even a coffee queue!) when you suddenly find yourself standing next to your ultimate ideal client…
And not saying anything is a wasted opportunity…
But what’s even worse than missing the chance to say something is to say something that’s not effective. At least if you say nothing you might get a chance later. If you say something stupid you’ve shot your one chance to make a first impression.
So say something about what you do. Quick!
If you say to me “I’m an accountant” my eyes glaze over. Now, as you’re not stupid, you notice this and so, in desperation, you add “But I’m not a typical accountant! I do all my work naked and hanging from the ceiling”.
But it’s too late. I’ve stopped caring – and I’ve stopped listening.
The Bad News: No one cares what you do
Here’s the bad news first. When someone listens when you tell them what you do, they don’t actually care. Even if they’ve asked you “So what do you do?” they don’t care! It’s axiomatic that they’re thinking ‘What’s in it for me?’ and they will only care if what you do helps them.
You know that’s true. You do it to other people so you know it’s true. Admit it.
No one cares if you do things differently. No one cares if you’ve won awards. No one cares. Get over yourself. The only person who cares about how you do things is… you!
Here’s the personal bit… Hard as it might be for me to admit, very few people come to see me as a professional speaker because they think “Oh! It’s Simon! He’s awesome! I need to get a ticket to see him!”.
Nope. They think:
Oh, the content sounds cool. I wonder if I should go… Ah! It’s Simon speaking. He was good last time.
I’m an add-on …just an after-thought. I’m not the main reason for coming. Or put it another way, no one cares that it’s me.
So what should you do?
When you (try to) lose weight, the rules are simple:
- eat less
- move more
But simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. And here, the simple trick is this… just make them CARE before you tell them how you do things. But remember the bad news… just like losing weight might be simple it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Making people care can be tricky.
We think people care about how we do things because we care about how we do things. Let’s be honest, we do it day in and day out, so that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees.
No one else cares. They care about what you do, does, so to speak.
Think of it like this. The chances are you’ve used Excel as a spreadsheet to sort columns of data. The people who code the software care hugely about how that algorithm work and if you ask them about it they’ll tell you at great length (trust me!). You, on the other hand, like any normal person only care that it’s a black box.
You care that you put random data in and you get sorted data out. That’s it!
You don’t care if it’s clever computer code inside the black box or millions of clever, tiny teddy bears running up and down the spreadsheet with your data in their paws!
You just care that it does what you want it to do, not how it does it.
There’s no such thing as a silver bullet
… but if there was, it would be a colon.
A colon is a piece of punctuation one level of importance down from a full stop. It links things that are, well, pretty linked, with one flowing from the other. Here’s an example. “Jim was a remarkably popular man: he was also one of the 10 richest men in the city”. Great, but how do you use that in your pitches? Use this simple structure…
You give them a pain – specifically their pain – first, before you tell them anything you do. Then, by a not-too-surprising coincidence, the solution to their pain just happens to be you, of course!
The point is that the pain gets people’s attention and gives them a reason to care. Let’s take our boring accountant again and give his pitch the colon treatment…
Be honest… you’ve got to be some kind of muppet not to ask for their business card at this point. They’ve described a pain you’re suffering from and offered to make that pain go away!
It’s not rocket science: all it takes is some thought. It works for the positive, too
I’ve introduced it as a formula with pain: solution but it works for a positive too. Take this example…
If you’re a parent of a young child, how would this pitch from local school work for you?
You’re probably pretty interested in pitching yourself at networking events – because before they told you how good they are they reminded you why you care how good they are.
The underlying magic
It works because you answer first the question on your networking events’ audience’s mind: WIIFM. (What’s in it for me). You give them a reason to care, a reason to listen… and then you give them the stuff that other people start their pitches with. And that’s why their pitches at networking events don’t work. Want a famous example?
Remember the adverts for that chocolate bar with Rowan Atkinson? Remember how it messed everything up as an inept ninja, falling through a roof, etc?
There’s the pain. And the solution? Eat something – specifically the ‘something’ that they make…
“You’re not you when you’re hungry: eat a Snickers”.
This article: ‘How do you pitch yourself at Networking events’ was written by Dr. Simon Raybould
Simon who wrote this article (How to you pitch yourself at networking events) is one of the UK’s most respected presentation and communication trainers. Clients range from pre-startup companies all the way to multi-nationals such as DELL computers and Renault.
He also trains professional speakers, but it’s not something he’s proud of. He stands by that no-fee promise, by the way. That’s a real thing, not something he made up just for this ebook. To get a feel for him, try is a blog at www.presentationgenius.info/blog.
Simon and I chat about pitching at Networking Events in this YouTube Live video
If you’re keen to learn more about pitching at Networking Events and listen to a 20 minute chat Simon and Charlie had on a recent YouTube live video ‘How do you pitch yourself at Networking Events’ watch this.
We’re going to be going live on YouTube every Friday for the next few weeks to talk about different types of presentations and tips to make them unforgettable and effective.
If you’re not yet subscribed to my YouTube channel – Click the link below and get notified when new videos are posted.
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