You’re on the most important elevator ride of your life. You have ten seconds to pitch- the classic “elevator pitch”.
Love or Hate. Money or Despair. And you may never get this chance again. As PM Dawn says, “I feel for you. I really do.”
There are books about this. But don’t waste your time. They are all garbage.
I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve had people pitching me.
But mostly, I’ve been scared and desperate and afraid to ask someone to give me, want me, love me, all in the space of an elevator ride or in the time it takes one to ride an elevator.
Perhaps the hardest thing for me was when I was doing my “3am” web series for HBO.
I had to walk up to random strangers at 3 in the morning on the streets of New York and convince them within 5 seconds to spill their most intimate secrets to me rather than kill me.
Not quite an elevator pitch but the same basic idea. I had a lot of practice. I probably approached over 3000 people cold.
In some cases people tried to kill me. In one case I was chased. In other cases people opened up their hearts and I am infinitely grateful to them.
The ideas below have worked for me in the hundreds of times I’ve had to be persuasive. Either in writing, or in person. In business and in friendships and in love. I hope variations on it can work for you. You decide.
A) WHO ARE YOU?
People want to know they are talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and perhaps even like, or love.
They won’t love you by looking at your resume.
You have to do method acting. Imagine what your body would feel like if they already said “Yes” even before you open your mouth.
You would be standing up straight, smiling, palms open, ready to close the deal. You have to method act at the beginning of your pitch.
If you are slouched and your head is sticking out then your brain is not as well-connected to your nervous system and you won’t be in “flow”.
I can drag out the science here but this is a Facebook status update and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper for the Justice League of America.
The reality is: when you’re slouched over, not only are you not using the full potential of your brain, but you look untrustworthy.
Think about how you breathe when you are anxious and nervous.
I will tell you how I breathe: short, shallow breaths in my upper chest.
So do the reverse before a ten second pitch.
Breathe deep and in your stomach. Even three deep breaths in the stomach (and when you exhale try to imagine your stomach almost hitting your back) has been shown to totally relax the mind and body.
People sense this. Again, this builds trust and relaxes you.
Now, even though you haven’t said a single word, you’ve probably done the two most important things for persuading someone.
C) UHHH. YEAH. UHHH. MMMM-HMMM. UH-HUH
I have a hard time with this. It seems natural to say, “yup” or “right” or “uh-huh” or whatever.
But here’s the facts (and, again, there’s been studies on this): people perceive you as stupid when you do this.
Just keep quiet when someone is talking.
Then, when someone is done speaking, wait for two seconds before responding. They might not be done yet. And it gives you time to think of a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are talking, then you aren’t listening to them.
People unconsciously know when you are not listening to them. Then they say No to you.
D) THE SIX U’s
FINALLY, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. THE ACTUAL NUTS AND BOLTS OF PERSUASION
By the way, I’ve googled “the 4 U’s” and each time I get a different set of 4. So I’m going to use the 4 that have worked for me the best.
This is not BS. This is not a way to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. This is a way for you to consolidate your vision into a sentence or two and then express it in a clear manner.
This is the way to bond and connect with another person’s needs instead of just your own pathetic wants.
You can use this in an elevator pitch, on a date, with your children, on your mother, whatever. But it works.
Think about these things when talking:
- Urgency Why the problem you solve is URGENT to your demographic. For example: “I can never get a cab when it rains!”
- Unique Why is your solution unique: “We aggregate 100s of car services into one simple app. Nobody else does this.”
- Useful Why is your solution useful to the lives of the people you plan on selling to or deliver your message to: “We get you there on time.”
- Ultra-Specific This shows there is no fluff: “Our app knows where you are. Your credit card is pre-loaded. You hit a button and a car shows up in 4-5 minutes.” Of course the example I give is for Uber but you can throw in any other example you want. I’ll throw in a fifth “U”
- User-friendly In other words, make it as easy as possible for someone to say “yes”. Like a money back guarantee, for instance. Or a giveaway. Or higher equity. Or testimonials from people you both know. Etc. OH! And before I forget, a sixth U
- Unquestionable Proof This can be in the form of profits. Or some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Or a good wing-man. Whatever it takes.
A lot of people say you have to satisfy the desires of the other person in order for them to say “yes”.
As much as we would like to think otherwise, people primarily act out of self-interest.
The less they know you, the more they will act of self-interest because to do otherwise could potentially put them in danger. We all know that kids shouldn’t take candy from strangers.
In an elevator pitch, the investor is the kid, what you are asking is the candy, and you are the stranger. So their gut reflex, unless you make the candy super-sweet, is to say “no”.
So make sure you make your candy sweeter by sprinkling in their desires.
And what are their desires?
If you can help them solve these URGENT problems or desires, then you they are more likely to say “yes” to you.
I don’t know what you are selling, but hopefully it’s not to satisfy their desire for revenge. But if it is, don’t do anything violent.
The one time I had to sell romance on an elevator I had to do three things: tell her life would be ok, make sure I knew her address and last name, and send her a teddy bear and flowers the next day.
But that’s for another story.
Everyone is going to have gut objections.
They’ve been approached 1000s of times before.
Do you know how many times I’ve been approached to have sex in an elevator?
But probably many others have and you have to put up with their non-stop objection.
I will list them and then give solutions in parentheses:
- No time (that’s ok. It’s on an elevator. So they have elevator-length time. The key here is to stand straight and act like someone who deserves to be listened to).
- No interest (you solve this by accurately expressing the urgency of the problem)
- No perceived difference (but you have your unique difference ready to go)
- No belief (offer unquestionable proof that this works)
- No decision (make their decision as user-friendly as possible)
– – –
With great power comes great responsibility.
Most people don’t have the power of persuasion. They mess up on each of the points I’ve outlined above. It takes practice and hard work.
But this is not just about persuasion. It’s about connection.
It’s about two people, who are probably strangers, reaching through physical and mental space and trying to understand each other and reach common ground.
It’s not about money. It’s not about the idea. It’s not about yes or no.
It’s about two people falling in love. -James Altucher
(Photo by Marco Wessel)
Networking is one of the most challenging skills you may have to learn in the world of business. It can be an awkward experience, having the attention of a group of strangers focused on you, and trying to make a good first impression.
It’s an important moment. The person opposite you might be someone who could make or break your career. If you make a good impression, he or she might be able to refer your next big client, or have the influence to help you land that next big contract.
On the other hand, if you act like a doofus, you might alienate someone who might have been an otherwise important connection and relationship.
If you’d like to avoid looking like a jerk, avoid being this guy when introducing yourself:
- Name dropper. This person introduces themselves by saying who they know, who they’ve worked with, etc. I might not remember their name, but I’ll remember that they once got Tony Robbins a glass of water.
- Drive-by carder. A card is not an introduction. Just throwing your business card at a person, or worse, at as many people as possible at a networking event, is just about the worst kind of introduction you can make. If you hand one to me, I’m going to hand it to the nearest rubbish bin.
- Double-carder. Handing someone two copies of your business card to encourage the other person to send you a referral. It’s presumptuous unless they ask for an extra card.
- Rambling man (or woman). As soon as you get to talk, you get over excited and start telling your life story. Or the story of how you got to the meeting. Or how you met your spouse. And forget to tell me, you know, who you are.
- TMI. If I’m just meeting you, I don’t need to know the entire history of your business or career, all of your degrees and accolades, and your dog’s maiden name. Stick to the basics.
- Limp fish. It may be old fashioned, but I think a weak handshake is a turn-off when introducing yourself. Practice a firm (but not crushing) handshake to convey confidence.
- The Cannonball. Probably the opposite of the limp fish is the cannonball — the guy who is so overly confident that he’ll barrel his way into any situation or conversation without being invited. If you want to join an ongoing conversation, wait to be acknowledged before you jump right in.
- Digital Zombie. If you’re going to a networking event, or a business function of some kind, don’t be so absorbed in yourself and your cell phone that you’re not paying attention.
How to introduce yourself in one simple step:
Instead of leading with what you do, lead with who you help. As in, “Hi, my name is Bernard, and I help companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and big data.”
Done. You know who I am, what I do, and more importantly, whether or not I can help you or someone you know. -Bernard Marr
What are your best tips for making a good introduction? OR, what are your least favorite ways people introduce themselves? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Throughout my 30 years in the human behavioral assessment industry, I’ve spent countless hours researching soft skills and behavioral styles, motivators, and emotional intelligence—some of the things that makes individuals unique.
It’s become clear to me just how few of us in society are truly able to think into the future. From a neurological standpoint, this is not surprising, as the brain is wired to store past experiences and use them as a library to understand and react to life as we move forward. It is not wired particularly well for projecting future events.
The ability to see past the immediate circumstances of life and envision the future in rich detail is quite rare.
In fact, as a skill, futuristic thinking is exceptional. According to research by TTI Success Insights, less than 3% of the people in the U.S. have some mastery or mastery of this skill. On a 10-point scale, the mean of people who possess futuristic thinking as a developed skill is only 2.8.
And yet, you do not have to be a completely futuristic thinker to spend time considering the future of work. Why is this important? Because the workforce is dynamic, constantly changing due to market pressures, demographics, and the move to a more tech-based economy. Staying abreast of potential changes will put you into a stronger, more lithe position to adjust quickly. I see three trends here:
The future of work will entail the continued migration from tangible work, likemanufacturing, to more intangible work throughout the world. In the U.S., for instance, a lot of our manufacturing has gone away and become more automated. We are going to see developing countries follow the U.S. in this trend.
As a result, more soft skills are going to be required in the world of work in the future. Therefore, work is going to become more service-related, more relationship-based. For workers, they are going to have to develop more of these skills to continue to perform at work.
These skills are not curriculum-based; they are not learned in a classroom. They are learned on the job and in life, through activities. So as companies, we are going to have to begin providing more activities as part of work that are going to help us build these skills, like building a team and influencing others.
Jobs of the future are also going to require continuous learning. Workers must therefore have a positive attitude toward continuous learning and be willing to embrace consistent advancements in the skills they must possess.
For large corporations, the real bottom line of the future of work is that they will have stronger teams, those built on a solid foundation of skill-based learning and have much closer relationships to their customers.
Also, I really believe as work continues to evolve, companies that find success will be those that know how to service their customers. Their customers are the true beneficiaries of this new relationship with the people. Given the rise of technology and social media as the domain of the people—and customer—if companies don’t have those highly developed soft skills, both internally and externally, then one negative brand interaction can go worldwide in a minute, causing severe damage to the brand.
The other future trend is in regards to handling stress on the job. Stress management, as part of talent management, is going to be part of the future workforce. As we develop, jobs will be re-engineered to eliminate as much of the negative stress as possible.
While a certain degree of stress adds to workplace efficiency and goal accomplishment, when stress amounts to a negative level and induces feels of being overwhelmed, frustrated and unappreciated, it becomes destructive. That level of stress can lead to burnout.
Those who see the value in fostering their futuristic thinking ability might benefit from these strategies. Find a mentor who is an innovator or thought leader in your industry. Study how they go about making decisions and listen to their thoughts on the future of your industry. Read books, articles and blogs of thought leaders and innovators regularly. Engage in conversations with them. Finally, push yourself to come up with a theory about a future-thinking trend in your industry that may become reality several years from now. Write your theory down. Spend time andenergy developing it. Regardless of if it becomes true, this practice will open up new neural pathways that can help to foster future thinking in your mind.
Exercising your futuristic thinking skills and taking time to ponder the future of work may put you in a stronger position to make the most of new opportunities—even those far in front of you.
—Bill J. Bonnstetter is chairman and founder of TTI Success Insights, which believes all people are unique and have talents and skills of which they are often unaware. For over 30 years, TTI SI has researched and applied the Science of Self™ using social and brain science, and created assessment solutions consultants in 90 countries and 40 languages use to hire, develop, and retain the best talent in the world. Find him on Twitter: @bbonnstetter
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