How to Summarize Your Life’s Work in 100 Words

“What would you say if you only had 100 words persuade me?”

Pretend I’m sitting in front of you right now and asked you this. Imagine that you had to come up with a short ‘pitch’ right on the spot.

What are your first instincts? What questions are running through your head?

I imagine you’re wondering why you are limited to so few words, what parts of your work might be most interesting to me, and 100 words to share what exactly??

It’s always been fascinating to me that going along with the natural way of communicating is not necessarily the most effective method to get your point across. We tend to ramble, losing our ideas in words. If we’re still thinking our ideas through we come across as vague or unsure, leaving confidence on the table. And we share our message in a linear way, not in a structure that ebbs and flows and builds momentum for our listener.

Imagine if you could find the right words, were so clear on your message, and had such great delivery and structure that you knew whoever you were speaking with really GOT IT.

How rewarding and exciting would it be to share that moment with them?!

The process of thoughtfully crafting your core message(s), and the corresponding actions you want people to take with you, is such a valuable practice for your business.

A 100 word persuasive pitch is exactly the task 60ish University students were tasked with earlier this week. And I had the fun of sitting on a judging panel that was awarding some cold hard cash. Cash to the tune of $500 for the best 100 word pitch of the group.

(Side note: Why wasn’t there anything this awesome when I was in school!!)

There’s nothing like a bulk batch of pitches to really frame what sets a great pitch apart from a good pitch, and a mediocre pitch from a downright terrible pitch.

The judging criteria = persuasiveness, creativity, and platform.

The results = confirmation that if you nail the bits covered below, you will have a remarkable, memorable, and persuasive pitch.

#1 – Know Your Audience

“You can’t be everything to everybody”, or “When you speak everyone, you speak to no one.”

These are well known sayings for a reason!

I’m sure you are so passionate about your work that you could speak about it for hours. But the reality is that you have a very limited amount of time to make a real connection with your listener.

Especially if you only have 100 words, you need to give careful consideration to what information to include or leave out of your communication. And putting yourself in the shoes of your audience is the best way to decide what bits have to be left on the cutting room floor.

What are their hopes, dreams, aspirations and desires? What keeps them up at night? What excites them? What do they value? What do they relate to?

Use the answers to these questions to inform which pieces of your story are most important to share and how you present those messages.

#2 – Know Your Objective

In tandem with knowing your audience, without a clear objective, your pitch will fall flat.

You need to explicitly state the specific action you want the listener to take. How can they build off of the momentum you’ve created and take the next step with you? Don’t leave your listener hanging!

One student took the time to describe a fresh juicy burger in great detail. He covered all the senses, and used such specific detail you could almost taste that burger. It was incredibly compelling – until the end. The description of the yummy burger ended. And so did the pitch. But wait!  Where does one actually GET this darn burger we now wanted so bad! No idea.

In comparison, the best pitch of the day built his case for a small square footage espresso stand up to a perfect call to action. He explained exactly why his business would be a great investment, gave out delicious samples, and wrapped it all up by sharing the phone number to call if you were interested to invest. Simple and effective.

#3 – Know Your Value

Always remember this: you have more context than anyone else about why you approach your work the way you do in the space you work in.

Of course, there will be people here and there with more experience in the industry and so on, but only you have that unique WHY and life experience that drives your work.

Part of your job pitching is to make sure your listener has everything they need to arrive at the same conclusion as you. You need to present your message in a way that brings them along the same journey as you. This ensures the ask you end with makes sense, even though they haven’t walked that path with you!

You need to know your value. In other words, you need to know why and how what you offer is different than the usual option, or special in some other way (maybe it’s that it’s so simple and undifferentiated that it’s a welcome change to alternatives bogged down by features).

If you can connect the dots needed to bring your listener to the same point you are now, while letting your why and purpose need to shine through, you are bound to be persuasive.

#4 – Be ‘Big’

There’s nothing compelling about fake bravado, or over the top confidence. That’s probably why lots of people shy away from being a bit louder or bigger version of themselves when pitching. It’s hard to push yourself into that zone, especially if you’re naturally a quiet person.

‘Being Big’ in my mind is not about going over the top, but sharing your message does sometimes require the highest energy version of yourself you can muster. When you’re at the front of the room, or even just sharing your ideas one on one, this energy comes through in your tone, your expressions, your posture, and the feeling of your message.

Humans are empathic creatures, and emotions are infectious. The more excited, or confident, or passionate you come across, the more those same emotions will translate into your listener.

#5 – Be Creative

By far the most creative pitch was a student who shared his message while playing the guitar. He sang his case in a few verses. His purpose? To convince girlfriend-less guys to simply pick up a guitar and that would secure them the perfect girl.

In this instance, the medium, and the creativity, suited the message. Would it have had the same impact if he was trying to persuade us to work out more? Maybe, maybe not.

Proceed with caution when injecting props and creativity into your conversations and presentations. One student took his case for drinking more smoothies to a new level by wearing a banana suit and blending smoothies on the spot.

Memorable? Yes. Creative? Yes. Persuasive? Not really. (Especially when half the blended smoothie ended up on the floor!)


There you have it; five key pieces of the puzzle for crafting the perfect persuasive pitch. If you found this helpful, you’ll probably enjoy this blog post too: http://www.thesedge.org/communication/how-to-bring-your-listener-to-the-edge-of-their-seat-in-3-minutes-or-less

 

Bonus tip:

Hands down, my favourite talent when it comes to taking your communication skills to the next level is ‘Story Magic for Free Thinkers and Changemakers’ Coach, Jessica Mastors. Check her out.

 

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