In the last two weeks I have attended several business networking events. At each of these events time is given for the attendees to stand up, introduce themselves, say their company name, and give their 10-second, 30-second, 0r 1-minute commercial or elevator pitch.
In most cases, after giving their commercial, I still didn’t know the person’s name or company name because they had mumbled, slurred, raced through their name, started talking before they had the room’s attention, or otherwise did not make sure that everyone in the room knew and understood their name.
So here is my plea: If you have 20+ people’s attention for even a few moments, respect their time, respect yourself, and speak your name and company name clearly so everyone can hear you. To miss this opportunity is to fail at the most essential aspect of being a businessperson.
Before speaking a single syllable, look quickly around the room, make eye contact, and take a breath. Then, in a clear voice say your name slowly, and your company name. In my case, I repeat my company name because a lot of people short-circuit and second guess what they have just heard when I say “Boomba Chicken”. So I repeat it.
This simple act of looking around the room, making eye contact, and then speaking clearly is not only going to ensure you are heard, it will also draw the room’s attention, and make it possible for you to speak clearly without having to shout.
You don’t have to be loud to be heard. All you need is people’s attention. Remember that.
Keep It Fresh
The hardest part here is to keep it fresh for yourself. We rush because we don’t want to hear ourselves saying our name and company name again. Or we are embarrassed. Or we don’t like to talk about ourselves. People ask me, “How do I say the same thing every time, and keep it fresh, so it doesn’t sound boring, rote, or turn people off?”
There are linguistic tricks that are available to us (“us” in this case being speakers of the English language) that other languages simply do not have.
For example, the title of this post has seven different possible meanings. Depending on which word gets the emphasis, the sentence takes on completely different meanings. Try it now. Read the following sentence seven times. Each time, emphasize a different word in the sentence, and you will see what I mean:
I never said she stole the money.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Now try that with your whole elevator speech, and see how playing with the emphasis alone can breathe fresh air and vitality into something that had become habitual and rushed. You can play this game even with something as simple as “My name is Christian Jacobsen, and my company name is Boomba Chicken”. If I go to weekly meetings, I could use the exact same sentence 12 different times, and play a game with myself to emphasize a different word every single time I spoke.
Just coming at your introduction differently every week will make your intro memorable, and will keep it fresh for you.
And honestly, doing this one simple thing well is going to help you be more interesting, which will keep me interested, and then I can talk about you to other people.
And that’s a situation where we all win.