elevator speech


Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action,

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

 “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” – Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead

I’m always keeping my antenna up for people who are one-of-a-kind at what they do.

I had the privilege of seeing one in action last week.

As The Intrigue Expert and a communication strategist for the past 25 years; I’ve seen and given thousands of presentations. (Really).

So, when I say Guy Kawasaki’s keynote at the Invent Your Future conference in Silicon Valley was one of the best presentations I’ve ever experienced, that’s saying something.

I was compelled to take notes because it’s a privilege to watch a master in action.

I shared my observations with Guy afterwards and am sharing them here so you can learn from his shining example and adopt/adapt some of his approaches so you can enchant (and intrigue) your future audiences.

Here’s why Guy’s keynote Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Action was a perfect 10.

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) -sam horn

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted)

Please note: I’ve distilled this debrief of his brilliant presentations into three blog posts. Check back the next couple days to read and reap additional techniques.

      1.   Guy had us at hello.

“You’ve got to be a good date for the reader.” – Kurt Vonnegut

No perfunctory opening remarks. That would have been predictable and predictable is boring.

Guy pleasantly surprised everyone by starting with an amusing riff about how most speakers run long and no one’s ever angry at a speaker for ending early so he was going to jump right into things.

Guy knows people are BBB – (Busy, Bored or Been there-heard that) and that we make up our minds in the first 60 seconds whether someone is worth our valuable time, mind and dime.

He earned our good will in the first few minutes by being a “good date” and by kicking off with humor vs. the old-fashioned “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em approach ” which would have had us reaching for our smart phones.

Bestselling author Elmore Leonard gave a keynote at the Maui Writers Conference (which I emceed for 17 years.) During the Q & A, a participant asked, “Why are your books so popular?” “Dutch” smiled and said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Guy was instantly popular because he left out the parts people skip.

      2.    Guy engaged our head and heart – our left and right brain – with facts and feelings.

“I never developed a plan for where I was going. I just counted on one interesting job segueing into the next. I let the universe do its work.” – Bernadette Peters

Any extreme is unhealthy. Many speakers (think engineers, IT professionals, physicians, professors, etc.) focus primarily on data, theories and facts. This makes for a lopsided speech because it’s long on logic but short on interest.

Other presenters (think motivational speakers) share inspiring stories but there’s no “meat” – no tangible takeaways we can apply to reap real-world results.

Guy was a sublime balance of head and heart. He let us know from the get-go he’d distilled his presentation into ten insights and 45 minutes.

People love top ten lists because it indicates you’ve done the homework for us and edited the superfluous, which means we’ll be hearing only the most salient points, the best of the best.

Anxiety is defined in two words: “not knowing.” If we don’t know how long this is going to take or the format, we may resent the speaker because, in a way, they’re keeping us in the dark and holding us hostage.

Covering 10 points (or 7 steps or 6 keys or whatever) in a specified amount of time builds pace and momentum and keeps a speaker on track because you don’t have time to ramble. Logical left-brainers think “Oh, good. This is clearly going to be bottom-line and a good use of my time because it’s measurable and replicable.”

Furthermore, a 10 point plan provides one of the quickest organizational constructs known to humankind because it provides an easy-to-understand-and-follow pattern. Listeners feel they’re in “the Allstate Plan” (they’re in good hands) and feel well-led as one interesting point segues into the next.

Better yet, Guy balanced rhetoric (words) with photos (senses) throughout his presentation. Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) because he “peopled his points.” His beautifully produced slides featured intellectually satisfying ideas, visually stunning images and named individuals which produced a holistic sense of symmetry. Well done!

      3.    Guy condensed his concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

“    Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

“Invoke reciprocity”.

“Conduct a ‘Premortum.”

“Incur a Debt.”

“Frame Thy Competition.”

“Separate the Believers.”

These are just a few of Guy’s featured sound-bites (and chapter titles).

How could you NOT want to know more?

Guy got his ideas in our mental front door because he was not content to be common.

Instead of lazily sharing platitudes and clichés (“Make it a win-win. It’s all about team.”), he coined first-of-their-kind phrases that got our eyebrows up.

(Side note: What’s The Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP! that gives you a way to test how compelling your communication is . . anywhere, anytime . . . in 5 seconds . . . for free.

Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP!

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP

You don’t have to convene a focus group and spend thousands of dollars to determine whether your idea is commercially-viable.

Simply tell someone your main point (or your elevator speech, business name, book title, the first 60 seconds of your pitch/presentation, or the first paragraph of your marketing copy) . . . and watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows knit or furrow, it means they’re confused. They didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it, you won’t get it.

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP.

Try it right now. Lift your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued? Curious? Like you want to know more?

THAT’s your goal as a communicator – to get the eyebrows up of busy, distracted decision-makers because it means you just got your message in their mental door.)

Guy’s succinct sound-bites made his content POP! Because no matter how many books we’ve read or seminars we’ve attended, we’d never heard this before.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t developed it yet. By developing original take-aways and NURDS (new words like Premortum), Guy made his content memorable and sticky.

Unique sound-bites give his content a long tail of influence. People love “the next new thing” and are more likely to share freshly-phrased ideas around the water-cooler – which means they’ll become Guy’s tribe and take his work viral by becoming his voluntary word-of-mouth ambassadors.

Phrases like “invoke reciprocity” are also monetizable and merchandisable.

People will pay for refrigerator magnets (or coffee mugs or t-shirts) with catchy phrases like this. This keeps you and your proprietary ideas “in sight-in-mind” with your target customers which gives your material even longer legs. It’s all good.

Check the next blog to discover more ways Guy demonstrated
platform brilliance.

It happened again.

I went to a conference last week and met dozens of smart, talented entrepreneurs.

Yet when I asked them “What do you do?” or “Tell me about your business,” many couldn’t quickly communicate what they did in a way I got it and wanted it.

Talk about lost opportunity costs.

if you care about your company, cause, creative idea or campaign; the ball’s in YOUR court to craft an intriguing elevator intro so the next time someone asks “What do you do?” you can respond in a way that sets up a meaningful and memorable conversation and connection.

For example, I met one woman in the halls and asked what she did.

Her response? “I’m a project manager.”

Argghh.

I asked, “Want to play with that?”

She said, “Sure.”

I asked, “What’s an EXAMPLE of a project you managed?”

(Using the two words FOR EXAMPLE is the quickest way to make your intro come alive bcause you’re showing vs. telling what you do. These two words turn an elevator speech into an elevator connection because people can SEE what you’re saying and relate to it.)

She said, “Well, I managed a drug launch.”

“For who? What’s their name? Or, if you need to keep your clients confidential, what size company is it?”

(Vague claims compromise credibility. You need to give enough specific detail so people trust what you’re saying is true.)

She said, “It was a billion dollar pharma company.”

(See how this intro immediately got more interesting and positioned her at a level of respect?)

I asked, “What was the timeline of what you accomplished for them? What were the measurable results?”

(When you provide details of the tangible value you’ve delivered for someone else, it sets up a When Harry Met Sally – “I’ll have what she’s having” – desire to have the same results.)

She said, “I brought the project in before deadline and under budget.”

(Who wouldn’t want that?)

“Then what happened?”

“The CEO called to thank me and said they couldn’t have done it without me.”

(Quoting a real-life endorsement POP!s our elevator intro because it provides irrefutable social proof that we have produced bottom-line value for other clients.)

I said, “From now on, SAY THAT.”

When someone asks, ‘What do you do?’ say, “I’m a project manager. For example, a couple years ago, a billion dollar pharma company asked me to oversee a drug launch. We brought it in under budget and before deadline. The CEO was so pleased, he picked up the phone to thank me and said they couldn’t have done it without me.”

Voila. Now we know exactly what she does. We’re impressed with what she does. And we can remember what she does so we could refer her to other people or seek her out if we’re in the market for a project manager.

How about YOUR elevator intro?

Can you clearly and compellingly get across what you do – in 60 seconds or less?

Can you win buy-in to your business, idea or organization in the first minute?

If so, good for you.

If not, you might want to listen to the interview I did with Karen Klein of BusinessWeek.com on this topic. You can listen to the 8 minute audio on the homepage of my website – http://www.samhorn.com/

Or, you’re welcome to email us at Sam@SamHorn.com to order my CD or e-book on “Create a Tell ‘n Sell Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deal.”

Sam Horn's Create a Intriguing Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deals.

Sam Horn's CD Create a Intriguing Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deals.

or

“If you don’t know where you’re going; you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Thanks to Rhonda Abrams (small business columnist for USA Today and CEO of The Planning Shop – http://www.rhondaonline.com/ ) for asking me to conduct my POP! Your Pitch: Win Buy-in to Your Business in 60 Seconds workshop for the British Airways Face2Face competition last week. http://businessconnect.ba.com/contest/

What a pleasure it was coaching these 250 non-profit leaders and small business owners in the halls of the NYC event and at 30,000 feet on our chartered flight to London.

Our focus was on how to clearly, confidently and compellingly communicate the essence of your work so you can answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that gets people’s eyebrows up (a sign of curiosity).

Check out these excellent articles which capture what great productive fun it was swapping best-practice tips with 250 smart, talented social entrepreneurs.

These articles also showcase the three finalists

Pencils of Promise is committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all.

Adam Braun Pencils of Promise is now a global movement.

Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise (the ultimate winner of the competition), Danae Ringelmann of IndieGoGo and Chris Eilers of Dunn Brothers Coffee.

All three are shining examples of visionaries who have built add-value organizations that are making a positive difference for everyone involved.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-strauss/i-have-seen-the-future-of_2_b_819088.html?ref=twitter

http://blogs.wsj.com/in-charge/2011/02/03/first-stop-london-next-stop-the-world/

http://www.portfolio.com/companies-executives/2011/02/03/millennial-entrepreneur-wins-british-airways-face-of-opportunity-faceoff

During one of our brainstorming sessions, several of the contestants weren’t able to articulate their competitive edge.

I told them, “It’s hard to have a competitive edge if you don’t know exactly how you’re different.”

One asked, “How do you figure that out?”

I asked her, “You’ve heard of having your ducks in a row? Well, before you can crisply communicate your competitive advantage – you need to have your ‘W’s’ in a row.”

“What are those?” she asked.

They are the W words journalists use to figure out where they want to go with an article or interview so they can stay “on purpose.”

Print out this blog post with the W10 Form below and take it to lunch with you. Or, print out several copies and ask key employees to fill them out so you can discuss these at an upcoming staff meeting.

POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything

Hailed as one of the best business books of the year


Taking time to answer the following 10 questions (excerpted from Chapter 2 of my POP! book) can help you clarify where you’re first-of-your-kind and worth trying and buying.

W#1. What am I offering? What is my product, service or organization?

W#2. Who is my target audience, customer or decision-maker?

W#3. What problem(s) do they have that my business solves? What keeps them up at night? What worries them, frustrates them, confounds them?

W#4. What do my target customers want or need that no one else offers?

W#5. What specific, measurable action do I want people to take? Schedule a follow-up meeting? Visit our website? Buy our product? Hire us as their consultant?

W#6. What objections or resistance might people to have to my offering, products or services? Why will they say no or opt out?

W#7. What do I say/do to address and neutralize those objections so they’re a non-issue?

w#8. Who are my competitors and how am I different or better than them?

W#9. What do all my competitors have in common? How do I zig where they zag? How does our organization do the opposite of the obvious?

W#10. Who am I (or who is my organization) What are our strengths and unique abilities? What is our tangible track record of proven, measurable results?

When you (and your team) can answer each of the above “W” questions in a clear, crisp 60 seconds, you will know exactly why it’s in people’s best interests to do business with you.

And that, my friends, is a competitive advantage.