Nobody Cares About You
Maybe your mom cares. And your family too. That’s it.
But seriously. Who should care about you? And who should you care about?
You probably don't want to listen to something you don't care about. I bet you've been stuck in a conversation that you find boring.
It is a painful situation, right?
I agree with you. It is an inefficient use of time, for everyone involved.
Then why do you sometimes do it to someone else? Be honest, we have all done that. Talking about something we want to say, without knowing if the other person wants to hear it or not.
In so many networking events people start the conversation with “Hello my name is [insert name here] and I am...”. And they go on and on about what they do. And nobody asked!
Imagine instead if someone asks “What do you do?” and THEN you talk a bit (only a bit, this is not permission to tell your life story) about what you do. In this situation, you are actually fulfilling a need. You are giving an answer to a question they asked.
Learning the art & science behind a 30-second pitch will allow you to answer those questions in a great way. You will give enough information to create interest. But also stop at key points to leave them wanting for more. And people will keep asking and you will keep answering.
But first YOU have to ASK. You have to be interested in them.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama
Listening and asking questions, will allow you to be efficient and create interest when you talk. Because you will already know what the other person is interested in.
Make Them Care About You
You have to care about you. That is the first step.
Then you have to make others care about you. And pitching is not an efficient way to get others interested in you. Pitching is what you do AFTER you get their attention and know that they are interested.
Asking insightful questions is one of the best ways to make others be interested in you.
In just one action (asking that insightful question) you can show that you are a curious person, that you want to help and add value, and that you care about them.
Most of the time, what stands in the way of not being able to listen, is that you are worried about what you are going to say next. You have memorized your pitch and you just want to get it out before you forget something or lose the opportunity to talk.
Which is why you have to practice your pitch until exhaustion.
By now you may think I’m crazy.
First I tell you that nobody cares about you. That you should be listening and asking questions instead of pitching. And then I tell you that in order to be ready to do so, to be a good listener, you have to practice your pitch.
I know it sounds crazy, but it makes sense. Just stay with me a bit longer.
Once you practice over and over, you pitch will become natural. You won’t have to recite it like a script. You will know it inside out and will be able to say it even backward.
When you reach this point, you won’t be fearful of the question “What do you do”, because you are more than ready for it. And by being ready you won’t have to be thinking about what you are going to say next.
Now you will be ready to listen!
“Practice, we talking about practice!”
Not about the game. Not about getting your dream job. We are talking about practice!
I remember when we were starting the MBA program, we would have to introduce ourselves at the beginning of every class.
You could see it on everyone’s face, or at least most of us, that we hated it.
And then when some of us got invited to talk at student panels we would have to introduce ourselves. Again.
Same thing for the events where I go as a Bauer MBA Ambassador. I have to introduce myself. Again.
Every time that I had to do it I would be rehearsing in my head. And my heart would start pumping faster and faster as my turn to introduce myself got closer. By the way, this has never stopped.
I still get a bit nervous every time I have to speak publicly, but now I don’t pay much attention to it. And the same will probably happen to you once you practice enough.
Usually, the first 10 to 15 seconds (that feel like hours) are a bit confusing because of the nervousness. My heart is still pounding, and I’m working on reciting whatever line I thought would be good to start. And then magically all syncs in. Everything starts to flow.
Flow happens because I practiced enough, and the words just come out. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to say because I know it, I own the content.
It all starts with Venezuela, the country where I am from, and it ends with my goal of continuing my career as a consultant after finishing my MBA.
That is a good map that you can use as a guide when you are introducing yourself or pitching. At least it should guide your thinking process.
You may not need to go through all the different pieces of your pitch in every situation. You have to tailor what you are going to say depending on the needs of your audience.
But in order to tailor a pitch, you have to own it. You have to know it inside out. And the best way to do so is to have a structure and practice. Yes, we are talking about practice.
Before, Now & After
If you are an MBA student your pitch should follow the lines of:
1) Start with your background and what you did before the MBA (Undergraduate degree and work experience)
2) Then talk about what you are currently doing (Focus of the MBA, Organizations, and Projects you are involved with)
3) And finish with your goal and what you would like to do after the MBA (specific industries, jobs, or companies that you would like to work for)
This could be as broad or specific as needed, depending on who you are talking with. When in doubt, keep it short. Remember, Nobody Cares About You ;)
Before, Now & After will fit most of the situations. If you are an entrepreneur pitching to an angel investor or a VC.
1) Start with why. Share the story behind your company. Connect with the heart and the mind will follow!
2) Talk about the company, your value proposition, and valuation
3) End with the capital requirements, your goals, and steps for the next 30-60-90 days
Again, this is something general and could be as broad or specific as needed.
But as you can see Before, Now & After can be applicable for most situations where you need to “Pitch”.
Now Go Practice
You will find many opportunities to practice.
Public speaking is the number one fear for human beings. This means that opportunities to speak will be everywhere around you. Group projects. Events your organization is running. Professional Panels.
Write your pitch down with the Before, Now & After structure. And practice. Record and audio and listen to it. Make a video of you pitching and watch it.
You will be nervous at first. You will make mistakes. And that is OK. It happens to everyone.
Remember that “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Stephen McCraine was onto something. Go practice and embrace failure.
There may be a friend in need. They can be looking for a job that they can enjoy. Or they may be in need of funding for their business. And a great pitch will be key to achieving that.
By liking and sharing this you may be able to help them. Please do so if you found value in this information.