Comedians are really great at it, and I think Wayne Brady (from TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) is absolutely brilliant. Thinking of something to say, much less meaningful and memorable, is really hard for a lot of people. Let’s be honest…it’s nearly impossible for most people.
Knowing what you want to say ahead of time, planning it out, and practicing it is the only thing that keeps the mind from going blank. Or worse, saying the wrong thing. Confidence is such a critical component to self-promotion, and nothing will kill confidence faster than a blank mind or the wrong word.
Actors use a script…why shouldn’t you? Even the greatest actors like Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro start with a script and get comfortable with the words before they take the stage or cameras start rolling.
Not only is it terrifying and nerve-wracking to be at a loss for words, but it’s incredibly ineffective when it comes to self-promotion. If you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention and make a positive first impression, you better know what you want to say ahead of time and choose your words carefully.
Essentially, we’re talking about the dreaded “elevator pitch”. That 30-second blurb that tells the listener everything they need to know. The visual image is of you and a hiring manager, key prospective client, or industry icon are riding together in an elevator. What are you going to say to that individual that will be enticing enough he/she will want to continue the conversation? Not easy, right? Did your mind just go blank?
This is why scripting out what you want to say is so critical. You many not get another chance. You may not get another ride in the elevator with the hiring manager of your dream job. Don’t let it slip away…be proactive so you can optimize each and every opportunity.
Here are a couple of easy scripts to help get you started.
“Hi. My name is __________. I am a ____(profession)_______ (with company Q if applicable). I am passionate about what I do because I love to ___(greatest strength)______________. It’s enormously helpful to my company, because I’m able to _______(value proposition)________________.
“Hi. My name is __________. I help ____(type of client)____________ who struggle with _____(key problem)_______. I help solve their problems by/with ______(solution)__________________.
Whether you use either of these scripts as a starting point or not, I still strongly encourage you to put pen to paper (or start typing) and create a script of your own.
The next step is to practice reading your script out loud. The written word doesn’t always sound the same when it’s uttered out loud. Make sure the words also sound like something you would say in conversation. Very rarely will some hold a microphone up to your mouth and ask for your “elevator pitch”. The information needs to be much more conversational…it’s a dialogue.
There is also a huge difference between memorizing something and internalizing it to the point you “just know it”. You know exactly the message you want to send, and can easily customize the information along the way so it’s appropriate to each and every conversation. It’s not a “one-size fits all” kind of pitch.
Scripting out your message ahead of time may not win you an “Oscar”, but it will skyrocket your self-promotion and help you be a star at the next networking event.