(Post by Andrew Thorp)
Business people want results and so, it seems, do football fans! That’s why so many of us will lament the retirement of one James Alexander Gordon, the man who brought the classified football results to our living rooms every Saturday afternoon for the past 40 years.
Hearing this news yesterday reminded me of an experience at a business breakfast event some years ago. You may know that these networking meetings involve a short introduction by each attendee, the so-called ‘elevator pitch’. As each person summarises what they do in 30-40 seconds, you can see the look of dread on those waiting their turn and the relief from those who’ve got it over with.
But what struck me was how many people merely reeled off the facts of what they did – “We’re a printing business based in Altrincham and we do all kinds of promotional literature: business cards, letterheads…” You can imagine that this doesn’t grab people’s attention, but think for a moment how bored the business owner must be saying the same thing week in week out!
As my turn approached I decided to try something new. “Good morning, I’m Andrew Thorp. I’m going to read half a football result and I’d like you to suggest what the other score might be. Manchester United 4, Tottenham Hotspur…?”
Someone shouted out “Nil” and I suggested they knew the score because my voice changed between the higher score (United) and the lower one (Spurs).
I explained that James Alexander Gordon would announce the results in a way that revealed what the score might be – a win, loss, draw or “Match Postponed”. Radio and TV use people with nice voices, voices with variety – ups and downs, changes in pace, emphasis and volume.
And I summarised by saying that’s the kind of work I do – helping people communicate more effectively when they have to explain something (with the voice being a key factor).
Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve bungled the odd elevator pitch in my time, but that football results version was about 5 years ago and people still remind me of it when I see them!
(And I kept it within the 40 seconds allowed).
I want to make 2 points:
First, you have a valuable window to make an impact when you introduce yourself, so don’t just reel off the facts of what you do – tell a story of some kind.
Second, develop a stock of different introductions which all arrive at the same place. You want to be known for one thing but there are many different ways of getting there. Use a prop or a current news story or a demonstration to highlight awareness of something in your ‘domain’, then reveal what it is you do.