Public speaking: few of us like it, but we all have to do it at some point.
When I first started out as a freelancer, I decided that a good route to gain contacts – and a dose of the elusive self-confidence that often newbies lack – was to attend some networking events and put Nadia Danaos out there; educate people about the new kid on the block.
I suddenly envisaged myself introducing my business facing a large crowd, in a manner similar to that of baby Simba being proudly presented to the world. It felt rather euphoric for a while…until the daydream vanished and I realised I needed to get real. Meanwhile my metaphoric roaring success swiftly dwindled to a meek meow. Truth be told, the thought of presenting myself and my new business to strangers scared me senseless.
Cue the on-set of stage fright which, comfortingly, is typical of most virgin networkers (apparently). Then came the resonating rush of self-doubt, which involved flipping fearful scenarios over in my mind: ‘What if they don’t want a writer? What if no one’s interested in my business?’…
And then, my vivid imagination took me to the ultimate dry-mouth-inducing, sweaty-palm-initiating level: ‘What if I fluff my business spiel, and make an absolute arse of myself?’ The pinnacle of what not-to-happen weighed heavily on my mind like a ton of business cards.
Getting a grip
The solution presented itself at a somewhat unlikely occasion: a summer marquee birthday party. Rather fortuitously, I’d been seated beside a lady who happened to organise networking events (perhaps ‘novice self-starter’ was evident through my body language, or my outfit?). When we got chatting, it wasn’t long before she quizzed rhetorically, “So you have an elevator pitch..?” My response was identical to those I’ve shared this advice with since. “I’m sorry, what?”
Turns out that this ‘what?’ became my little hero; my secret weapon. Quite simply, the concept of an elevator pitch reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary of your business in the time span of an elevator ride (approximately 30 to 60 seconds). The aim is to impress the listener to the point where, at the end, you seal it with an exchange of business cards.
I mean, sure, it’s not rocket science. I knew I had to create a speech of this ilk, but somehow the elevator pitch – with its intertwining of common sense and limited-time-to-shine scenario – seemed to work wonders for me. As a writer, I always aim to keep a sentence potent and succinct. When you have little time to get your message across, it forces you to use more effective language which engages the audience further. Unlike spray-on cheese, this was an Americanism I was very happy to endorse.
When you’re just starting out – as with anything – it’s such a relief when you discover a know-how to assist you. And elevator pitches are no exception. The internet is full of helpful hints and examples for you to hone your self-intro and ensure you’re pitch-perfect. And if you prefer to see the elevator pitch in all its glory, head to YouTube for seminars and videos – including elevator pitch dos and don’ts (some of them are down-right silly, but when you’re prepping a speech, a bit of comic relief can be welcome).
In practicing this logically-sound introduction tool, I swiftly overcame my public-speaking fear and found it fairly easy to devise a strong pitch: succinct, compelling, intriguing …just as a good writer ought to. Plus [hello – the main event] I was waxing lyrical about my business, not droning on about someone else’s idea. Talking about ourselves is everyone’s favourite subject, so we come across naturally passionate and enthused.
Frankly, nailing this business intro is a no-brainer. How had I not met the elevator pitch before? If I’d taken a friend’s advice and treated myself to an evening of speed-dating, I’d have got the hang of elevator pitches sooner…
So, all that remains for me to say is: If you need a creative copywriter, with expertise in blogging, educating and training, and a profound knowledge of working with big brands via several media platforms, call or drop me a line. [cue business card] I look forward to working with you.