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Win Buy-In from Decision-Makers in 60 Seconds or Less

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

As the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (Perigee – Penguin, ’09) (which Seth Godin calls “Revolutionary” and Ken Blanchard says is a “lively guide to getting heard, getting results”), I’m often asked to coach start-ups who will be requesting venture capital.

I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote for the Ignite Clean Energy Summit in Boston for the MIT Center for Enterprise.  Following my presentation, I conducted on-the-spot coaching of the national semi-finalists who were all developing “green” businesses.

Based on feedback from the group, the following POP! Your Pitch tips were particularly helpful in helping them create winning pitches they presented to potential investors the following day.

These tips work whether you’re delivering a pitch, making a sales presentation or speaking at a conference. Review this POP! Your Pitch checklist before every presentation you give so you capture and keep the favorable interest of listeners and command the respect you want, need and deserve.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #1:

Say something in the first 30 seconds that gets peoples’ eyebrows up.  A series of “Did you know?” questions that introduce startling statistics or surprising news is a great way to cause people to look up from their Blackberries and decide you’re worth listening to.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #2.

The purpose of a venture capital pitch is NOT to get funding; it’s to get a follow-up meeting.  It’s idealistic to think an investor is going to give you millions after a 10 minute pitch. It’s realistic to sufficiently intrigue and impress an investor in 10 minutes so they’re compelled to find out more.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #3.

Turn audience members into word-of-mouth advertisers by crafting a rhythmic catchphrase people can repeat, word for word.  The best way to craft an AIR-tight sound bite is to use Alliteration, Iambic Meter and Rhyme.  For example, “Click it or ticket” is better than “Buckle Up for Safety.”   I helped an Ignite Clean Energy team come up with “Any plug, anytime, anywhere” as a tagline for their electric car.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #4.

Insert a one-minute story about how clients have benefited from your company so decision-makers have context (not just content) and connect with you on an emotional and logical level.  As the Official Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped women entrepreneurs receive $4 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in venture capital, I helped Lauren Williams of Movie Hatch craft a success story about a client who went from having his film collecting dust on a closet shelf to winning the Jackson Hole film festival in less than 4 months.  Her 60 second story captured the interest of everyone in the room.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #5.

 Your confidence is indicated by the authority and volume of your voice. If people can’t hear you, they conclude you don’t have the confidence or clout to carry off your venture.  I once saw a woman who ran a Fortune 100 company lose a corporate audience at a national convention in the first 2 minutes because she had a little-girl voice that ended with upward inflection that made her seem tentative.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #6.

 Your business name is a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Do people “get” your business name the first time they hear it? If they don’t understand it, they can’t relate to it and they won’t want it. Zappos, Google and Yahoo are all fun to say. Arxcis, GPM Technologies, Sempran BioScience, and other difficult-to-pronounce names make people go “huh?”  You’ve spend months (years?) developing your idea. Invest in its success by giving it a name people like and remember.  (My POP! book can help you do this.)

POP! Your Pitch Tip #7.

 PROPS! When you hold up a sample of your product, people SEE what you’re SAYING.  Show and tell is infinitely more intriguing than tell, tell, tell.  I coached an entrepreneur who is developing a “green, biodegradable needle” to start off her pitch by saying, “Did you know 1.8 billion injections are given every year worldwide?  Did you know more than half of them are unsafe?  They spread the very diseases they’re trying to prevent because they use used needles.”  She held up a baggie with a “used needle” and then contrasted it with her 100% safe, one-use needle.  The visual proof was powerful.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #8.

 Tower, don’t cower. The perception of your leadership is measured by your posture. A fig-leaf position means you have something to hide. Hunched shoulders and a tucked-down head are signs of insecurity. Adopt an athletic stance (feet apart, not together), roll your shoulders back, hold your head up and make steady eye contact with everyone in the room at least once to project confidence and command respect.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #9.

 The two most powerful words in a pitch? “For example.” Back up each claim with a real-life example with quantifiable metrics and measurable evidence (i.e., 30% increase in sales, 20% reduction in turnover, took company public with a $10 million profit, grew an organization to 300 employees) so investors know you’ve delivered bottom-line results before and can be trusted to do so again.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #10.

Don’t just ask for the sale – plant a specific action seed by telling them where to find you immediately afterwards. For example, “I’m Chris, in the green jacket, with CleanerGreenerNow. I’ll be (point) in the back corner at the next break. I welcome your questions and would be glad to provide specific details on how we’re going to scale this in the next 12 months.”

 

You may have seen ukulele phenom Jake Shhimabukuro’s YouTube video, shot in NYC’s Central Park, of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which has more than 11 million (!) views.

You might also have seen Jake’s TED video where he performs a masterful version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all on four strings…:-)

I’m here speaking in Waikiki and chanced upon an excellent PBS-Hawaii documentary last night about Jake, a virtuoso who has “hit it big,” yet remains grounded in his values.

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

A favorite segment of the PBS special was when Jake played his ukulele in Sendai, Japan (ravaged by the 2011 tsunami), at a senior care center.

The expressions on these people’s faces, their tapping along with Jake’s strumming, was particularly poignant and profound.

Perhaps most powerful was Jake’s statement, “My goal when I play is to connect with my audience, to play music that moves them.”

Kudos to Jake. His goal deserves to be our goal as speakers and writers.

The goal of speaking is not to get a standing ovation. It is not to get a perfect 10 on our evaluations or to generate lots of “back of the room” sales.

The goal of writing is not to have a book that serves as a business card (gak). It is not to have a bestseller or to have “product” that drives our career.

Those are nice; those are welcomed; they’re just not the primary reason we speak and write.

The goal of speaking and writing is to connect with our audience members and readers; to share ideas, insights and stories that move them to feel something, to rethink something, to do something differently.

A participant came up after my presentation on Friday and said, “You just radiate joy. What is your secret?”

First, I thanked him and then told him, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak for a living.

To stay centered in my goal of genuinely connecting with participants and sharing something that puts the light on in their eyes; I repeat the following mantra to myself in the minutes before a presentation.

I am here to serve; not to show off.

I am here to inspire; not to impress.

I am here to make a difference; not to make a name.

Then, I start every presentation with Arthur Rubenstein’s quote … “I have found if you love life; life will love you back.”

I have found that if I center myself in that mantra and start off with Rubenstein’s quote, it grounds me in how much I love speaking.

And when we love what we do, people often love being around us and want to be part of it.

Any nervousness or self-consciousness disappears.

What takes its place is a sublime stream-of-consciousness where we’re swept up in an exquisite state of flow in which we’re one with our audience.

What mantra do you use to ground yourself in your clarity that the purpose of your speaking is to serve, not to show off; to inspire, not to impress; to make a difference, not to make a name?

When writing, I picture someone specific across the desk from me and write to that person. It could be one of my sons, a client or a friend, someone who could benefit from what I’m trying to get across.

It transforms writing from being an intellectual exercise, a brain dump of “What do I want to say?” to “What would put the light on in this person’s eyes?”

When I mentally reach out to a specific person, when my purpose is to write something that would resonate with them; the words flow out so fast my fingers can hardly keep up.

How about you?

Who are you going to speak to – write to?

How are you going to keep them top-of-mind by focusing on how you can reach them, resonate with them?

How are you going to center yourself in your intent to connect; which is the real reason we communicate?

Always has been. Always will be.

“One sign of an excellent speech? ‘Can people repeat something they heard, word for word?’” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech was an instant classic.

Why?

It’s original, evocative and revealing.

Gaiman confesses that he ignored the wise advice from fellow author Stephen King to “enjoy the ride of his success.”

However, there’s an even more important reason Gaiman’s 20 minute talk has gone viral and been turned into a book which is coming out next week.

The popular author condensed his speech theme into a single sound-bite that is easy to repeat.

Make Good Art.

Think about it.

How many conventions and graduations have you attended? How many presenters and commencement speakers have you heard? Dozens? Hundreds?

Can you repeat ANYTHING they said?

If you can’t; that means they’re out of sight, out of mind. Their message had little or no enduring impact.

What’s an important message you want to share with the world?

If you want people to remember it and act on it; is YOUR responsibility to distill its essence into a repeatable sound-bite.

Successful film-makers know the importance of this.

“Show me the money.” “I’ll be back.” “You can’t handle the truth.” “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

You probably remember those movies even though it’s been YEARS since you’ve seen Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson and Roy Scheder utter those lines in the movies Jerry Maguire, the Terminator, A Few Good Men and Jaws.

Those movies are STILL top-of-mind decades after their release because their screenwriters crafted memorable lines that have legs.

In fact, check out the top movie quotes of all time. Almost ALL are 7 words or less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_100_Years…100_Movie_Quotes

What’s this mean for you?

Look over your upcoming presentation.

Does it have a resounding idea that has been distilled into a pithy 7 words or less?

Have you condensed your theme into a title or sound-bite people can repeat, word for word?

If so, good for you. You have just increased the likelihood listeners will become YOUR word-of-mouth advertisers because they will be able to remember what you said and recommend it to others.

If not, you might want to pick up a copy of POP! and study Section IV on how to be PITHY with its chapters on:

* Make Your Language Lyrical with Alliteration
* Put Your Sound-bite in a Beat to Make it Easy to Repeat
* Make it Sublime with Rhyme

This is not petty. You’re pouring hours (and lots of money?) into designing and delivering a presentation that will hopefully impact everyone in the room.

Why not invest the time and mind to POP! your message into a memorable sound-bite so people are still being positively impacted by it … years after they’re out of the room?

TV show friends

“That silence you just heard was me speaking my mind.” – coffee mug slogan

Did you ever watch the TV sitcom Friends?

Remember Phoebe, the self-described blonde ditz who sang, “Smelly cat, smelly cat?”

In one episode, Phoebe was complaining to Joey about something her brother did.

After listening for awhile, Joey interrupts her and says, “Phoebe, have you told your brother how you feel?”

She looks at him and says, “Yes… well, not out loud!”

Sound familiar?

Is there someone at work who’s mistreating you, making you miserable or driving you crazy?

Do you lay awake at night, reliving what you WISHED you’d said, over and over in your head?

Have you been telling everyone BUT the person who’s bothering you how outraged or offended you feel?

Studies show that’s what many of us do because we’re conflict averse.

We avoid confrontations because we don’t like to fight and we don’t want to make things worse. We just want to “keep the peace.”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep the peace with someone who’s making war on you.

What’s worse is … silence sanctions.

If you’re not saying anything to the person who is behaving in inappropriate ways; they’re “getting away with it” or they’re assuming it must not bother you too much because you’re not calling them on it.

Jack Canfield says, “People treat us the way we teach them to treat us.”

When we “turn the other cheek,” we TEACH people it’s okay to keep mistreating us. We’re showing them we won’t hold them accountable and we won’t speak up for ourselves.

You have a voice. Use it.

It’s time to say “No. Enough. Stop.”

The good news is, there are diplomatic ways to do this so you won’t lose your job … even if the person bothering you is your boss.

Here’s a sample scenario.

Imagine someone at work likes to get a rise out of female employees by saying things like, “You women are SO emotional” or “You always get stressed out.”

This person is senior to you so you’ve felt it wasn’t “your place” to let him know his sweeping generalizations are not true or fair.

Please recognize; it IS your place to establish and enforce boundaries to let people know they can’t “talk all over you.”

As Ann Landers loved to say, “People can’t walk all over you unless you lie down.”

Here are four ways you can use Tongue Fu!® to diplomatically, yet firmly, speak up for yourself.

1. If possible, address this issue in private instead of in public.

Calling someone out in front of others causes them to lose-face.

They will resent you – even if what you’re saying is true. They may feel a compulsion to escalate in an effort to put you down so they’re back “on top.”

2. Do NOT deny, defend or disagree with their sweeping accusations.

Denials backfire.

Think about it. If you say, “We are NOT emotional!!” or “I am NOT getting stressed-out” … you are.

3. Instead, put the conversational ball in THEIR court by asking, “What do you mean by that?” or “What makes you think that?”

Then, put a sock in it.

Asking a question gives them an opportunity to explain themselves. They have to give a specific example of what makes them say this. If they can’t; they’ll often back off or back down.

If they have a legitimate reason or explanation for what they believe, even if you don’t agree with it, at least you now know what’s REALLY going on and you can discuss that instead of reacting to their attack.

4. Another option is to simply repeat what they said as a question, emphasizing the extreme word.

“Really? ALL women are emotional?” “Is is true I ALWAYS get stressed out?”

Repeating an outrageous over-statement is one way to make it clear you’re not going to suffer in silence and passively allow them to throw around disparaging comments.

Remember; don’t pull a Phoebe.

Holding people accountable IN YOUR HEAD helps no one.

Speak up, in the moment, when people say inappropriate things so you’re teaching them to treat you and others with the respect we all want, need and deserve.

Did you like this tip?

There are dozens more in Sam Horn’s book Tongue Fu!®, which is currently ranked #3 on the Korean bestseller list, has been published in 17 languages around the world, and has been taught to such organizations as the U.S. Embassy in London, the U.S. Navy, Boeing, ASAE and Honolulu Police.

Tongue Fu!® is now available in a Kindle version so you can access it right here, right now on your e-reader.

I hate you

“My eldest daughter told me she hated me when she was in the second grade.”

Bet that got your attention!

Which is the point.

Most articles, blogs and books start off with blah-blah preliminaries to “set the scene.”

Forget that.

Don’t set the scene. Jump into the scene.

That article could have started out predictably with, “This is a review of Sheryl’s Sandberg new book about women in the workplace.”

Yawn. Are you motivated to drop what you’re doing and keep reading?

I didn’t think so.

But instead, that first sentence popped off the page and motivated me to read the rest of this excellent article by Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post entitled, How Can You LEAN IN If You Don’t Have Anyone to LEAN ON?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katharine-weymouth-how-do-you-lean-in-when-you-dont-have-someone-to-lean-on/2013/03/22/b117d730-8b24-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html

What are you writing right now? A blog? Article? Report? Book chapter? Web copy? Marketing brochure?

Review your first sentence and paragraph.

Does it set the scene – or jump into the scene?

If you want to have readers at hello, pleasantly surprise them by JUMPING into a dialogue phrase pulled from the story that illustrates your point.

Readers will be intrigued, and they’ll want to know … the rest of your story.

“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

As a communication strategist and pitch coach, I often have clients tell me, “You can’t say anything in 10 minutes.”

One client, who was pitching a room full of investors at the Paley Center in New York City, said, “Sam, there’s no way I can explain my company, team credentials, business model and exit strategy in 10 minutes.”

I said, “Kathleen, you don’t have 10 minutes. You’re going at 2:30 in the afternoon. Those investors will already have heard 15 other presenters. By that point, their eyes will be glazed over. You’ve got 60 seconds to get their eyebrows up.”

The good news is, we came up with a 60 second opening that not only got the interest and respect of that audience, it helped Kathleen Callendar of Pharma Jet land millions in funding and become selected as one of Business Week’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010.

(The full story is in this Fast Company article on How to Gain Buy-In to your Idea in 60 Seconds or Less. http://www.fastcompany.com/1751298/how-gain-buy-your-idea-60-seconds-or-less

So, what does that have to do with Super Bowl Sunday?

USA Today editors just selected the top 25 Super Bowl ads of the past 24 years … and all of them are 60 seconds or less.

Chances are, if you’ve seen them, you remember them and remember them … fondly.

They prove you can pack a lot into 60 seconds. You can win buy-in from target decision-makers, tell a compelling story and keep your brand and message top-of-mind, years after the fact.

As journalist Laura Petrecca reports in this article the winning ad “is the 1993 Nothing But Net commercial in which Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shoot an outlandish game of H-O-R-S-E ,” trying to out-do each other to win the right to dine on a McDonald’s Big Mac.”

http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/1862001

What’s this mean for you?

What’s a communication you’ve got coming up? A communication in which you want to win buy-in from decision-makers and customers?

Don’t waste the first 60 seconds with preliminary, perfunctory remarks. No, “I’m glad to be here ….” Or “When Bob asked me to speak …” or “Before I start, let me …”

In this day and age of instant gratification, you will already have lost the hearts and minds of your audience if you start with … INFObesity.

Instead, jump into something intriguing that gets people’s eyebrows up. It’s the single best thing you can do to make sure your pitch, presentation, commercial or communication wins buy-in for what you care about.

Are you thinking, “I agree with the importance of doing this; I just don’t know how to do it.”

Want good news? My E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST system shows you how to earn the attention and respect of any audience … in 60 seconds or less.

Discover for yourself why these techniques have been won raves from clients around the world (London, Geneva, Toronto and throughout the U.S.) and have helped people receive millions in funding while helping their products, services and business break out instead of blend in.

http://www.intrigueagency.com/products-page/eyebrow/

Purchase it today to instantly have these E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST tips at your fingertips … so you can have people at hello next time you want their attention and respect.

Serendestiny - doing what makes you come alive

Chances are you’ve seen this inspiring quote from H. Thurman,  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive ; then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

What makes you come alive?  What puts the light on in  your eyes?

One of the things that does it for me is … writing.

Tennis player Pete Sampras was asked what it was like winning his first U.S. Open.  He said, “No matter what else happens the rest of my life; I’ll always be a U.S. Open champ.”

That’s one of the many  benefits of writing.  It is so TANGIBLY, ENDURINGLY REWARDING.

Many things are fleeting. Quality books are not.

Yes, writing a quality book is a front-loaded project. 

You pour your heart, mind, soul … and plenty of what Bryce Courtenay called “bum glue” …  into writing a quality book.

But it will still be out in the world,  years later, making a positive difference for others and a propserous living for you.

I am just re-experiencing this glorious phenomenon,

We’ve just released a new e-version of Tongue Fu!® … which was first published (ahem) 16 years ago!  http://www.amazon.com/Tongue-Better-Anytime-Anywhere-ebook/dp/B00APRX4FG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357067747&sr=1-1&keywords=tongue+fu+-+get+along+with+anyone%2C+anytime 

How satisfying it is to know this book is still positively influencing people around the globe.  I’ve welcomed this opportunity to update the content and include examples of cyber-bullying, internet gossip and what to do when someone’s texting at dinner.

What’s this mean for you?  It’s the beginning of a new year.  You have a fresh start opportunity to do what makes you come alive. 

If that is writing, then resolve to put pen to paper or fingers to keys today.  It’s time to get your experience, expertise and epiphanies out of your head and into the world.

I promise. You will never regret writing – you will only regreat not writing when you had the chance.

 

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