One of the issues I often tackle with my clients is an awkwardness around their pitch. Their answer to the dreaded “what do you do?” or “tell us about yourself” questions.
We feel embarrassed and flustered when asked; and clumsy and uncomfortable in the delivery. The result: a forgettable experience – for everyone involved.
So let’s imagine now a different scenario. One in which you’re delighted to be asked; followed by a confident and engaging delivery, full of balance and poise. How do we get to that?
Rebranding the pitch as a promise
For those that perhaps struggle to talk about themselves, let’s start by rebranding our “pitch” as a “promise”.
A pitch most-often makes us think of an “elevator pitch” – which is just one type of pitch and for a very specific dynamic. When we’re talking about ourselves, it’s more helpful to focus on creating a “professional promise”.
A Professional Promise is a 30-second conversation encapsulating our promise of future performance.
It answers 3 fundamental questions:
- Who are you? What are you really about?
- What do you do? As presented in a frame of your choosing.
- How do you it? Your key competencies and differentiators.
Some key ingredients
To get you thinking creatively about your Professional Promise, here are a few key ingredients to consider:
- Role Descriptors: what would others call you?
- Employer/Client Wants and Needs: what problems do you solve?
- Stand-out Differentiators: what sets you apart?
- Experience: how long have you been doing all this?
- Stakeholders: who do you work with and for?
- Delivered Outcomes: what do we get from you?
- Your #1 Result: what does it all lead to?
These are just a few thought-provoking ideas. But in the end, it really comes down to just one question:
What are you really about?
Make it a social pitch
When we’ve got some ideas together, we want to start combining those into a short, succinct Professional Promise that is direct, clear, joined-up and – above all – YOU. Here’s an example:
“Senior business development manager, described as an agile, strategic thinker who’s not afraid to implement the changes. 15 years’ hard-earned leadership experience with FTSE 100 corporations, predominantly in Financial Services. Known for cultivating successful client relationships, bringing new products to market and growing market share.”
Of course, whilst this might be useful for your profile summary, you probably wouldn’t say this out loud in answer to the question: “so, tell us about yourself.”
So, the key ingredient: PRACTISE. Out loud.
Turn the on-paper version into a conversational “social pitch” with softening phrases like: “so, I’m all about … “, “clients might describe me as … ” or “what I really bring is … ”
And get so used to your Professional Promise – and all its variations – that it becomes natural, free-flowing and devoid of awkwardness.
Less is more
A final (brain-based) tip: less is more.
The human brain is easily overwhelmed with information. And for the record: it doesn’t sum the total of everything it knows about you; it averages it. So say one brilliant thing about yourself. Not one brilliant thing and three mediocre things.
Less really is more.