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5 steps to Polish your Elevator Pitch to Perfection (thru 3 types of messages)

9 May

Is sharing your pitch as comfortable to you as pushing the ‘up’ on an elevator button?

Does your pitch feel as comfy as elevator chit-chat?pressing buttons

I don’t know about you , but when it comes to selling myself, my words turn into a mouthful of caramels.   Well, maybe not that sweet or gooey.  And, to make it worse, I’m a communication coach/facilitator.

How can this be?

Hey, it’s hard to sell – ourselves – to others we don’t know.  Others who are in the midst of selling to us.  Sometimes it feels like networking events are huge swap meets where there’s lots to sell and let’s of competition for the pennies in people’s pockets.

Realizing this, I knew I had to come up with an easy and fun strategy to share my skills.  Luckier for me, I had an opportunity to share them Tuesday night at Showbiz in NYC with 2 meet-up groups:  Crowdzu and Women’s Business.

Are there new challenges with face-to-face networking?  We’ve gotten so used to doing it in cyberspace and are less likely to reach out in person.  I guess for people

We're all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us...

We’re all focused on our phones, often more than the people in front of us…

who have ‘grown up’ this way, it is easier connecting through LinkedIn and Facebook.  Me, I’m old-fashioned.  I’ve been told my ghost-like on-line presence renders me invisible.

But onward…

In person communication is 3D and so is a great elevator pitch.

Light travels faster than the speed of sound:  people see, before they hear us.  And the assumptions begin!.

Meeting face to face here are the percentages for how our messages are heard:

  • 55% of the message heard is our body language, mostly facial.
  • 38% is the pitch, volume, and intonation of our voice, and,
  • 7 (measly) % is our actual words.

That’s 93% of a message ‘heard’ are nonverbal!

Body-Language definitions:images

What you're feeling on the inside shows on the outside

What you’re feeling on the inside shows on the outside

Aware of the power of our presentation, I came up with these 5 steps for a polished pitch:

1.  Purpose:  Decide – and write down why you are going to an event and what you hope to gain.  Doesn’t matter if it is just to get out of the house or if you are looking for a job or funding.  Your purpose will keep you focused and give you extra incentive to walk through the door.

2.  Attitude: Wow!  How are you feeling about the event and life in general?  Your attitude is that 93% of what people will hear when you share your brilliant skills.

For those of us who have been having a rough time ‘out there’, it can be hard to keep a positive attitude and this is why it’s really important to rethink your current situation.  If you are feeling really bad, maybe take a break and rejuvenate yourself.  Watch a TV show or meet with a friend who makes you laugh.  Or get extra sleep which always makes (me) feel better.  Most of all, don’t apologize for how things are.  Write down all the things you’ve learned, all the sock drawers you’ve cleaned up (or socks you’ve tossed), or the number of interesting conversations you’ve eavesdropped at Starbuck’s while whiling away the hours.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself all the things you are good at and all you have to offer.   Remember attitude is 93%!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

Good strong handshakes with eye contact are dazzling displays of confidence!

3.  6 Parts of the 7% verbal:

  1. Smile, maintain eye contact, and shake hands:  a REAL handshake regardless of gender.
  2. Share your name and title
  3. Present your hook, or question.  This may be:  What brings you here today?  or as a prospective documentary filmmaker learned to ask at the workshop:  ‘Do you know who Major Taylor is?
  4. Tell what you offer including specific skills.  T. shared this first as benefits but these are her skills:  Expert at listening and identifying people’s talents and then connecting the right people with the right position.
  5. Share the benefits of your specific skills.  As S. pointed out, just telling people they will save money isn’t enough.  Be sure to be specific:  for example with T., her benefit is saving time and frustration, which will add to productivity.
  6. Ask a follow-up question to gather more information and keep the conversation flowing.  E. has a brilliant skin care line and her pitch follow-up:  ‘What is your skin care challenge?’

Be comfortable enough with your words that you can customize your pitch.  

Be sure to match your skills and benefits with your audience.

4.  Practice

It’s one thing to put together the right words, but remember it’s the nonverbals that will ‘seal the deal’ so to speak.  I always recommend practicing in front of the mirror.  Say your pitch over and over maintaining eye contact with yourself.   Smile.   Become comfortable with the words and watch the excitement build on your own face. It’s catchy.  The more comfortable you are with the words, the easier it is to customize.

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

Practice till your thumbs naturally turn up

5.  Appearance

In our perpetual casual Friday society, the way you dress still matters.  Dress for the job and position you want to have.  Want to be in business?  Wear a suit.  Want to be takes seriously?  Dress appropriately.  You’ll feel different and people will treat you in kind.

Most of all: Have fun!  And follow-up with all those business cards you take!

What’s your favorite tip for elevator pitch presentation success?

How do you prepare for networking events?

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Add value to your goals

4 Mar

Spring is about to burst into bloom showing us a new season, full of new opportunities.  

Now is a perfect time to review  your 2013.

For me, that means looking to my values and how my actions are (or are not) meeting what I hold most important.  After all, for the last year, I’ve promoted values when talking about conflict, money, happiness, work, love – yes, everything.  So I saw this is a perfect opportunity to pull everything together.

Focusing values rather than goals is a subtle difference.  But you know what they say:  change one thing and everything else changes.

This refocus held power for me because I’m NOT motivated by crossing tasks off a to-do list.  (Perhaps you know and are frustrated by people like me!)   But meeting my values, my WIIFM’s (meaning ‘What’s In It For Me) are my benchmark for success.  Personalizing my process has changed the conversation I have with myself about what and how I am doing.  And the only way we can accomplish goals is making them personal.
1.  The process:

  1. I reviewed and rethought my top five (5) values, something I have been doing regularly over the last few years.  If you don’t know yours, identify them now through this activity!
  2. I then wrote out actions I need to take and make in order to meet them.
  3. I continue to take action steps after reviewing why I want to do it, what it will bring me, or how it will meet my WIIFM’s.  

2.  Review values

  • For example:  my #5 value is fun.  Now fun may seem superficial, but for me it’s a vital part of a life well lived.  Life is short and my philosophy is  Borges’:  ‘The shortest distance between two people is laughter.”

I think work should be fun (filled with new ideas, laughter and connection).

  • So when networking events felt like a chore, I knew my frustration was about more than not meeting clients.  These events had the air sucked out of them thanks to my desperation for work.

 

3.  Change awareness:

  • My new attitude about networking is it’s a venue for enjoyable conversations and new learning.  Lately when I go home ’empty handed’, I feel full by what I heard or the people I met.
  • Now I understand which value isn’t met and why, and identity what I need to do differently next time or how I need to reframe an action.

4.  Rewrite your values daily and the actions you are taking to meet them.  After all it’s way too easy to get caught up in action.

Write your values in a beautiful notebook!

Write your values in a beautiful notebook!

  • And this is a simple action, about 5 minutes every morning.  In a beautiful notebook, I write out what I am doing to meet my needs.   I admit I love the physical act of writing and I’ve trained myself to  check in with myself as I go throughout my day – assessing what makes me smile to my gut wrenches.   Equally important, I’ve learned to  forgive myself when I don’t. While I’ve always thought of myself as self-aware, I’m learning so much!

I’ve personalized this idea from Harry Che http://www.goalsontrack.com/blog/author/harry/ (thanks Harry!) who blogged about rewriting his goals.

Start living the life you were meant to live.  

Not sure where to start?   Start with yourself and identify what’s important to you!

Watch the Holstee Manifesto www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDmt_t6umoY to get rolling!

Let me know how I can help!

We all deserve to live life that holds personal meaning.  Have a conversation with loves ones around values.  Create action to support a life of meaning.  Support others to do the same.  

You deserve it.

What I really want: The Coach is IN: A Talk in the Park

30 Jul

Two young men drinking soda eyed my sign for ten minutes before curiosity propelled them to  explore further.  Three weeks of basketball camp brought them to

Wonder if Barack’s basketball prowess impresses these boys?

Pennsylvania from Belgium and the West Indies.  Practicing English brought them to me.

50 teens from French-speaking countries are at camp learning to dribble and shoot the ‘American’ way.  Today, their NYC day was all about shopping.  Hanging in Bryant Park was respite on a hot day.

The young Belgian shares: Americans are friendlier and more open, than people in Brussels, who rush to destinations, ignoring people met on their journey.   Perspective is viewed through an experiential kaleidoscope.  Usually its New Yorkers accused of fitting meaningful interactions into a ‘New York minute’.

Isn’t every life experience viewed through a kaleidoscope? Image from the University of Arkansas, Math 2033!

My own kaleidoscope turns to late-afternoon business lunchers in the park.   I wonder what challenges await them back at the office.   They won’t stop to talk.  This I know from my ‘Talk in the Park’.  Experience reminds patience.

Minutes later, a young man, paused, then sits.  True, he’s in the chair beside me, yet I feel his needs circling the table.   It’s not my imagination.

S. has been in the U.S. for several years, having emigrated from Benin, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13037572 ,  a small, poor, country close to Nigeria.  Unemployed, he’s just applied to work at McDonald’s.  He really wants to work, but isn’t optimistic.

‘People see that’ he’s not calm.  Armed with rejections and feeling unaccepted, he believes this comes from his own negative self-talk.  S. is working to control his mind, delving into self-help.  His self-awareness is remarkable.

His face clouds, pinches.  Frustration feeds his stress while talking about failed interviews and work frustrations.

Customer service and a strong work ethic take center stage in examples from his past sales associate position.  S. cajoles customers to try new items, bringing products to their attention, based on what was already in their basket.

Hmm.  Based on my experience training managers for a large retail chain, S. appears to be the perfect candidate.  We talk about interview strategies to share his talents.  Interview questions are unrealistic, he feels.  He can’t and won’t answer what he likes/doesn’t like.

His love of work, need to focus and accomplish tasks both compliment and unnerve his sense of self, sense of calm.  Somewhere in his last two jobs, he ‘lost’ himself, and searching for calm and work is both unnerving and frustrating.  I certainly these emotions and wonder how many millions of similar conversations are taking place around the country and the world at this exact moment.

But he needs to stay calm and answer interview questions.

What does he want?  To work.

Other people’s actions and thoughts keep popping into our discussion, blurring his focus.   Hints of arguments and need for his way to be the right way coat the surface of his interview experience, smothering possible opportunities.  His non-verbal expression http://face-and-emotion.com/dataface/general/guide.jsp overpowers his words.

One way to improve his interview technique – and nonverbals – is to practice answering questions while looking at a mirror.  Practicing till calm will enhance his success.

(http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/02/07/your-nonverbal-communication-can-wreck-your-interview/ for more info)

Focus:  What does he want?  To work.

We cycle through his wants washed with emotions, wringing out interview wrinkles.

Sharing advice I’ve heard from district managers:  make your boss look good,  is easy to apply to S.’s skills.  Great customer service and sales, his forte, will make any boss look good.  Arguing with his boss over how and what to do, well, not so much.

A smile slowly relaxes his body, adding a nod and realization.   After reviewing a few more strategies to build on his strengths, focus on his wants, and identify new doors to knock on.   S. shakes hands with confidence.

Bryant Park is great entertainment destination this time of year. Ping pong tables offer a chance to blow off steam and practice showmanship.

I wish him luck.

And best of luck with tackling your challenges this week.

I’ll be back in Bryant Park on Wednesday (if it doesn’t rain).  I’m moving into the present:   tweeting/twittering about communication essentials and where to find ‘A Talk in the Park’

Share what’s on your mind!

Overcoming skill-building challenges with Friends: The Coach is IN: A Talk in the Park! Vol. 7

16 Jul

What frustrates you about friends and colleagues?

How have you overcome challenges when working and learning with friends?

N. was focused and open about his challenge and issue to be resolved as he sat at my Bryant Park coaching table.

A relationship conflict:  mixing business with friendship, or more specifically having goal focused skill building sessions with a friend.  One slight problem:  his “friend doesn’t appear to be doing the work”.  His friend appears to be “holding himself back.”

Listening, I knew it was time to focus N.’s challenge by using MoMA (Moments of Awareness) https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/decisive-actio…the-park-vol-4/ ‎:

Q1:  What are you feeling:  frustration

Q2:  What do you want:  Growth – in the skill they are both working to develop

Q3:  What can you do differently:  Let him go at his own pace

Sounds good, right?  It took us time to ‘get here’.  Strong emotion guided his frustration.   Answers to these questions initially focused on his friend: what his friend needed to do, what his friend wasn’t doing.

N.”wondered why people ‘do that’.  He wanted his friend take action and pursue this skill growth with his discipline.  Confessing he couldn’t change his friend didn’t make it easier to focus.  It never does.

Further discussion found N. sharing this same frustration with others:  his dad and with those he coaches for medical school interviews.  He admitted he becomes frustrated when he is asked the same question 3 times.  He doesn’t want to waste people’s time – even if they don’t mind.

The DiSC is a great tool for insight into action, reactions, conflict, and career focus. This image is from www.suehansonspeaks.com. To take an on-line assessment go to: http://www.personalitystyle.com

 The essential two tools:  I believe are indispensable to provide N. insight into his behavior.   The results can provide direction and strategies to achieve his goal and  eventual answer to Q3 above:  letting his friend go at his own pace.

  1.  The DiSC assessment tool.  http://www.personalitystyle.com  will identify his communication style. This good quick version of the tool provides great information.  (Stay focused on one aspect of your life as you take it.  Questions?  The Coach is IN)
  2. The values assessment tool tunes you to:  ‘the radio station we all listen to’:  WIIFM:  What’s In It For Me.  WIIFM’s are our values and explain our motivation and a key to action AND insight into underlying causes of conflict.  N.’s values are (likely) key to his own motivation -and conflict with his friend’s actions.  A very simple assessment tool:  http://www.career-test.biz/values_assessment.htm .                                            Values also drive our financial decisions, so use them to assess your spending and saving actions!

The hard part of course is putting it together and understanding (for N.) his own behavior and then recognizing his friend likely has a very different style and values.  Recognizing, accepting, and learning from these tools are key, and, I can’t repeat it enough even for myself, challenging.

N.’s next step is to communicate his needs to his friend.  He can only talk about himself  and his needs and should’s.  This is a great opportunity to begin a conversation and learn more about his friend.

I suggested a modified ‘I Statement‘ approach adding some open-ended questions:

  • The reason I want to build this skill is:
  • I want to build it with you because:
  • It’s important to me because:
  • I get frustrated when you (specific action)
  • What is your reason to build this skill?
  • Why do you want to work with me?
  • Why is important to you?
  • What do you think we can do differently for us both to grow better at this skill?

Our 10 minute session stretched to almost 30 minutes as we went through these 2 tools and 2 processes.  A full coaching session (as N. and I discussed) would work through the assessment results and fully formulate communication strategies to use with his friend and interview coaching clients!

A good first start and a good demonstration of how coaching meets my value for meaning (and helping others).   

How do your values match your daily actions?