Last week we highlighted the importance of being intentional to share hope-filled and uplifting stories that infuse positive energy into our community, so we can take control of our perspective and future. This week let us tie that positive perspective and our central theme of community engagement into a few tips that can help us refine our story and elevator pitches.
The first question usually asked at events or job interviews is “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?” With either question, the goal is to spark a conversation. So, the idea is to provide a teaser that draws them in, tells a piece of your story, and most importantly, how that adds value. Think of it as quick, 30- to 60-second sound bites (the attention span of most business leaders nowadays), where you can promote your best skills or experiences.
Generally, some of the top tips with elevator pitches are to use the simplest language possible, avoid speaking the way you write, turn your pitch into a question, and sometimes ditch the “pitch” all together. To take those a step further, pick three specific things that make you unique, like talents, experiences, trips and languages. For each, have a story that illustrates a “value” and is programmed to recite on command in very short or longer versions. Many leaders and public speakers have amazing stories, but what makes them so marketable is that they can instantly share their stories in whatever timeframe is appropriate. Their stories and lessons can be shared in 30 seconds, two minutes, or two-hour versions, if the situation and audience fits.
We have talked about it before, but if you ask any leader what is most important, aside from their business and family, community tops the list. For this reason, your community efforts offer a perfect platform to stand out. The key is to highlight “leadership” roles you are taking, along with the impact of your efforts and how they are helping others in the Mid-South. It is great to be giving back, but even better to be leading an effort in some way. So, make sure to have one or two stories related to your community engagement that you can use as a lead in.
Know your sphere of influence and how everyone is interconnected. Memphis is a large city, but once you connect people with their passions, it quickly shrinks to a close-knit, almost family-like environment. Do your homework before going to an event or interview, so you know something about the people you will be meeting. Talk to the “wallflowers” because many times, it is a CEO standing back and analyzing the situation. Lastly, practice a lot (video yourself) and remember to SMILE because that positive energy is contagious!
Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).