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

Are you going into a meeting today to introduce an idea, request funding or propose a program?

Did you know its success depends on whether you get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds?

Sam Horn eyebrow test

Sam Horn's The Eyebrow Test®


People at many meetings are either jockeying to get THEIR idea heard – or they’re bored, distracted or just waiting for the meeting to be over so they can go back to work on the UPO’s (Unidentified Piled Objects) stacking up on their desk.

The good news is, you can test in advance whether your idea is going to get any traction.

Just ask a colleague for 60 seconds of their time.

Explain your idea/proposal/request to them . . . using the exact same 60 second opening you’ll use in the meeting.

Now, watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows are knit or furrowed, they’re puzzled. They didn’t get it.

And if they didn”t get it, you won’t get it.

Because confused people don’t ask for clarificaiton and they don’t say yes.

You want their eyebrows to go UP. That means they’re intrigued. They want to know more.

That means you just got your idea or request in their mental door.

If what you’re pitching gets their eyebrows up, good for you. That means, “Game’s on.”

If it doesn’t, back to the drawing board.

Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

Want specific ways to win buy-in to what you’re proposing?

Email us at Sam@SamHorn.com with The Eyebrow Test® in the subject heading and we’ll send you three ways to get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds.

Or, purchase a copy of POP!

It has 25 innovative ways to create communication that quickly captures favorable attention from your target customers, investors and decision-makers, has been featured on MSNBC and in the NY Times and Washington Post. Sam’s keynote with these techniques has won raves from convention audiences around the world.

And subscribe to this blog if you’d like additional ways to craft intriguing openings that pass The Eyebrow Test® so people are motivated to give you their valuable time, mind and dime.

“When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

My first public presentation was when I gave the valedictory address for my . . . elementary school.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it was for this eighth grader eager to impress.

I prepared my ten minute speech and asked my father to listen to it. My dad, Warren Reed, was a long-time toastmaster (his father George Reed had been International President the year I was born) and I knew he’d give me honest feedback.

I presented my “bird leaving the nest, ready to fly on its own” homily and asked, “So, what do you think?”

Dad paused for a minute and then said simply, “It’s an okay talk; you just didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.” He continued, “Sam, if you’re going to ask people for their valuable time and attention, you have an obligation to be original.”

“But Dad,” I protested, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”

He smiled and said, “Sure there is. Know what the definition of original is? If we haven’t heard it before, it’s original.”

That launched me on a lifelong quest for creative, clever quotes.

If you’re going to talk about creativity, success or how to counteract stress, you may feel it’s all been said. But if you can introduce an uncommon quote on those topics, people’s eyebrows will go up. They’ll think, “Hmmm, haven’t heard that before. Tell me more.”

Quotes get your verbal foot in people’s mental door.

For example, Rudolph Flesh said, “Creativity may simply be the realization there’s no particular virtue to doing things the way they’ve always been done.”

If you’re speaking about true success, you might want to quote Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak who said, “There must be more to life than having everything.”

If you’re conducting a stress management seminar, you could pleasantly surprise your audience by starting with Ron Dettinger’s quip, “I told the doctor I couldn’t relax. He said, ‘Force yourself.’” Or Lilly Tomlin’s wry observation “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”

The key is to use uncommon quotes. As inspirational as Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” or “John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what you can do” quotes are . . . people already know them. Using them will defeat your purpose because people will conclude you have nothing new to say and they’ll tune out.

A good litmus test for whether to use a quote is, if you’ve heard it before; chances are your audience has heard it before too. Scrap it and keep searching for something that makes your eyebrows go up. That’s a sure sign that statement is sufficiently provocative to pique your audience’s curiosity. People will be more likely to listen because they always walk away from your presentations knowing something they didn’t know before.

Want to know the 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Quotes? Email us at Jill@SamHorn.com and we’ll send an article with specific tips on how to find and use quotes that make you instantly interesting.

Would you like a list of my Top 10 favorite quotes of all time? The most funny, thought-provoking, guaranteed-to-get-people-interested-in-what-you-have-to-say quotes? Check back next week and I’ll share them.

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