Entrepreneurs need to have an elevator speech for everything —Photo Credit: Bark
If you think sound bites are just for the salesy, sleazy, or slick, you’re not seeing the big picture.
In today’s hurry-scurry world, where people’s attention spans are the size of a tweet, sound bites, your key messages, can make or break a deal, a sale, or even a casual encounter. In order to be on the cutting edge, or even just competitive, entrepreneurs need to be at the sound bite ready for every opportunity.
Once they are prepared they can make a connection anywhere with anyone at any time that could result in a life-changing shift. Whether you have a business, book, product, service or cause, sound bites are the key to making a quick connection.
I was reminded of the importance of sound bites on a recent call with an author who became a client. She blithered on and on in her emails writing me several detailed pages before we even set up an appointment to see if we were a match. Bad strategy. I took her on because she really has something to say to the world — she just takes way too long to say it. That’s why she hired me.Authors need sound bites for their book proposal, book title, query letter, and log line —Photo Credit: Mancha Extraña
On our initial call I had to repeatedly wrangle her in order to discover what her book was about. It wasn’t easy or fun. This is something that I should have been able to discover in 20 seconds. She’s about to embark on a book tour so we have much work to do before her book publishes. Your audience wants to have a good time with you.
It’s your job to deliver only the information that they need to know at that instant. And deliver it in a concise, memorable, entertaining, and elegant way.
This video is a moving example of why words matter.
Being able to get to the essentials of who you are, why you do what you do, and what your business is about, is critical. To whittle your words into sound bites, your key message take-aways — takes practice. Lots of it. But once you master this kind of messaging you can use it across all mediums from your social networks, to a media interview, to a chat in line to get the latest iPhone.Communication skills for social media—Photo Credit: Rrrrred
The problem isn’t that entrepreneurs don’t have plenty to say — it’s that they have too much — and they have no idea how to organize their thoughts or content into tightly crafted meaningful messages that leave their audiences begging for more.
It’s like taking Tolstoy’s War and Peace and turning it into Haiku. It’s a huge task; one that is best done with a sound bite buddy or media coach.
To get into the habit of speaking in sound bites before a networking event, meeting, media appearance, job interview or spontaneous interaction in the proverbial elevator, I suggest that you create at least six sound bites using the following formulas.
Story of origin: My client, Kristen Scheurlein, Founder of Affirmagy, left a multi-million-dollar business as a graphic designer to become what she calls The Blanket Lady.
“I didn’t want to become an entrepreneur, but it’s in my blood. My grandfather was a shoemaker. In the Depression, he saw that many people couldn’t afford shoes. He traded chickens for shoes to make sure that none of the children in the village went shoeless. I didn’t realize that I was following in his footsteps when I began my business, which will become a complete non-profit in five years, but I am. We give away blankets to churches, charities, homeless. In essence, I’m trading chickens for shoes.”
2. Statistics connected to your book or business: Self-employed people, whose numbers continue to grow, have almost doubled since 1980 to over 17 million. One of the biggest challenges of the self-employed is the lack of structure and accountability to follow through on important tasks. Many complain that they feel like they are “all alone” in their business lives.
The book, Extreme Success by Rich Fettke gives self-employed people ways to develop the support they need and proven strategies to stay focused and effective on their most important goals.Combine statistics with your opinion on TV talk shows to become a thought leader—Photo Credit: AJC1
3. Fact: More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, and another 13 million people are estimated to have undiagnosed thyroid problems in the U.S. alone.
4. Vignette: An anchorman and reporter at CBS spoke at 300 words per minute while the typical person speaks 125-140. The practice of Transformational Speaking taught him to take time, pause. For the first time in his life his evaluations as a professional speaker said things like “Thank you for giving me time to think.” He said, “I don’t beat up my audiences with facts any more.’
5. Anecdote: Chuck Barris, creator of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show and more, said that people were always eating while watching TV. His mission for the shows became the motto: stop a fork. “I always told my staff, if we could stop a fork… midway from the bowl to the mouth then we had done something right, we had just created a moment that was O.K.. That was the slogan that we carried around the company. Stop a fork.”
6. Analogy: “Bangs are the new Botox.” Becky de la Rosa, Hairdresser
7. Aphorism: “Language is the dress of thought; every time you talk your mind is on parade.” Dr Samuel Johnson
8. Acronym: M.A.D.D. Mothers against drunk driving
Through training and practice you move these key phrases you’ve created into the conversations you have at networking events, with potential clients, buyers of your products or services, the media, and anyone who you want to give an experience of who you are and what your business is about. It’s important to be prepared for any personal and professional opportunity that comes your way. Which can happen anywhere at any time.
Case in point. While one of the participants in mysound bites course was waiting in line to buy an iPad 2 she sold over 250 books from the trunk of her car and closed a speaking engagement worth thousands of dollars. How? By speaking in sound bites in casual conversation.
You too can master speaking in sound bites to engage your ideal audience to buy your book, build your business, engage your services, get involved with your cause, and, most importantly, create a lasting connection.Attract your ideal audience with the right words—Photo Credit: Milena Mihaylova
Want to know what to do when the media calls? Hop on over to this webinar to learn the secrets of media stars. (Everyday people just like you who have learned how to do it right and got astounding results).
So many people wrote in that they were disappointed that they missed the deadline to join my new course called “Your Signature Sound Bites™: How to Convey The Right Messages To Get What You Want” that I’m opening enrollment for another 72 hours. Go here to see what you get. We already have a fantastic group of fascinating people who have signed up and are eager to learn. If you are too go here: https://prsecrets.com/soundbites_course.html
When you watch the video on the webpage at above link you’ll find out about the all important 3 Ps…These three things are ESSENTIAL to you being a skilled and sought after media guest.
We’re living in an age where there is a 24/7 news cycle. We’re bombarded with online video, everyone is snapping pics with their camera and the next American Idol is waiting to be discovered. Privacy is a thing of the past. Transparency is king – whether you like it or not.
The good news is that speaking the truth has more power than ever. The bad news is that it’s easy to say something you wish you hadn’t – and have it catalogued forever so anyone can access it at any time.
The silver lining is that every media interview is a chance to build your brand. The ugly truth is that it’s also an opportunity to ruin your reputation over night.
Packaging your message while maintaining control over your every media interaction is a necessary and vital art. Here are three tips to keep control of your reputation.
Don’t Be a Slob. I remember one of my first clients was a high tech expert. We debated whether he needed to be in a suit or could he wear what he was most comfortable in – a sweater. At the time the sweater won out. Today, I’m not so sure we would make that same decision. People sum you up in less than three seconds. Do experts wear sweaters? Maybe. But a suit speaks seriousness. It’s grown up. It’s what men have worn to work since the industrial revolution. It may be a stereotype, but it’s engrained in our national consciousness.
You’ve heard the expression: “Dress makes the man.” While a well-tailored suit isn’t going to make up for an empty brain it goes a long way in gaining instant credibility. Have you ever noticed how well expensive designer clothes fit? Rather than having a closet full of clothes they don’t wear Europeans select a few exclusive clothes that they mix and match in creative ways. When I lived in Paris I was struck by how well-dressed even the students were. The French even have an expression for it: Bien Foutu, which means well-put together. That’s what you want. Clothes that suit the occasion, your body, personality, and profession.
Don’t Chatter Aimlessly. “Bush and I were published on the same day. And my book was called, I remember Nothing and his could be too,” said screenwriter, playwright and author Nora Ephron recently on the Bill Maher show. Ephron said that she had been warned ahead of time by the producers that she had better get a joke in fast otherwise she would be overshadowed by the quick repartee of Maher with the other guests. Even though she is an experienced media guest, she said she was terrified and planned her joke out word for word. Plan, prepare and practice your sound bites word for word so when you’re under pressure you can perform. Consider yourself warned.
Don’t Sell Shamelessly. I remember visiting comedian George Carlin’s website while he was still alive and getting a good laugh when I clicked on his store. He said something like…
“Please buy my crap.” I wasn’t offended. That’s Carlin’s style. And I liked that he wasn’t hiding that he had something to sell. You might need to be more subtle. The art of selling is two-fold. You have to feel comfortable doing it in your own way. And you have to integrate it into your patter so it doesn’t stand up and shout “I’m selling you stuff!” in the middle of a conversation. You want the selling to be seamless, worked into a point that your audience is hanging on your every word to hear. That’s the art of creating sound bites that don’t sound like they are selling, but work through intrigue and tease so you naturally and organically want more.
Speak in Sound Bites To Get What You Want
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I want to thank you for what you shared. I commend you for “showing” your own lessons via stories – great examples – and just for the work you do. I felt prompted to let you know that I appreciate what I gained from what I heard…especially…remember to be authentically me and to show through stories. ~ C.C.
I know why reporters and producers can’t stand people trying to get on their shows and in their publications. They are SO annoying! I remember the cartoon character Charlie Brown saying, “I love humanity, it’s people I can’t stand.” That’s the way I feel at this moment.
I was kind of shocked at some of the responses I received from people responding to my queries for upcoming columns I’m working on for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
People didn’t pay attention to what I asked for and one even admitted that he wasn’t answering my need. This is called answering “off topic” and can get you instantly banned from services like http://www.helpareporter.com which was one of the free services I used to post my query or request.
The other thing that struck me was the discrepancy between people’s responses and their websites. I sometimes had a favorable response to someone’s initial email and then was mortified by their website and vice versa. Sometimes their thoughtfulness intrigued me, but their website photo repelled me. Other times while their credentials impressed me, their schlocky nature of their approach full of typos and truncated sentences put me off. The opposite was true as well.
One well-heeled professional, who had a client list of famous and prestigious people, told me exactly how he wanted his byline in the piece I was writing to appear. While I recommend that you always ask to be listed by how you prefer, it came off as glib and bossy, not to mention premature.
I talk a lot about that everything that you do, say, are and think from your words to your website need to be in alignment™, and my experience asking for experts deepened my conviction about the importance of being completely congruent.
Go here to find out how to give producers and reporters that warm fuzzy feeling that makes them want to pick up the phone and call you instead of your competitor and avoid giving them agita (Italian word for indigestion).
The late ABC Anchor Peter Jennings noted, “I find writing the evening news sometimes very challenging because I realize that what we’re trying to give folks in the evening is black and white when so often I want to give them gray.” That same frustration is only exacerbated these days for media and communicators alike. Bottom line: There is a place for nuance. It’s just a small place.
Attention spans have shrunk to the size of a Nike Swoosh. But one reason why the conservative right is so successful is that they give audiences one side and one side only. It’s simplistic, but it’s clear.
While I’m not advocating simplifying issues devoid of nuance, what I am suggesting is that to help your CEO or spokesperson learn the game that gets ink, you must help him or her develop a million-dollar tongue.
A large part of that involves delivering concise sound bites the media will use.
I love poetry and nuance and subtlety. It saddens me that the place for it in the media is almost as extinct as the White Rhino. I’ve frequently said to my clients that the art of sound bites is like taking War and Peace and turning it into a haiku.
Learning to speak “sound bite” is like learning a new language. Here are some ways to do that without selling your soul (or losing your message):
Speak so you can’t be edited. I media coached a former Jesuit priest for CBS’ “60 Minutes” who was protesting the sexual harassment he had endured that led him to leave the priesthood. The show was called “Is the Catholic Church above the Law?” I played Mike Wallace. He got Morley Safer. He said the interview was easy after what I put him through. He was positioned positively. It could easily have gone the other way—except for one thing: When I taught him to only speak phrases that couldn’t be truncated and spliced to change his meaning, the six hours of taping that was edited down to five minutes turned in his favor.
Does this take lots of practice? Yes. But it can be done. The harder you are on your CEO or spokesperson, the better it is for him. Better you making him sweat and swear than Mike Wallace. By the way, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and he won.
Create modular sound bites. I was media coaching a CEO of an up-and-coming company positioning itself to go public. The company was targeting business shows on MSN, CBS, CNN and wanted to attract investors. We created sound bites to include facts about the company’s financial well being, about the internal health of the company and employee happiness, and the ways that they were innovators in their field. Plus the company was growing fast, adding new stores nationwide at record speed, while staying in the black.
We took those same stories and angled them for the company’s other two audiences: consumers and trade. And we worked the CEO’s passion for fly-fishing into the mix, which brought out his sweetness.
Pro tip: Work with your CEO or spokesperson not to memorize talking points, but to make them modular—to flex his ideas into different shapes and sizes for different audiences. Make him human and lovable by establishing some key stories about his personal life, which exemplify how well he leads her people—which is what we really want to see. We need more leaders and fewer protectors of the bottom line.
Move people with your good spirit. Words are less important than you think, likability more. In the Gallup poll taken during each presidential election since 1960, the candidate who scored highest in the likeability category has won every election.
Making your CEO likable is crucial to his success in the media.
I was working with a CEO of a popular magazine who had a brilliant mind, was a talented athlete, but wooden.
As soon as I encouraged him to speak of his youngest daughter, his whole demeanor softened. His VP of PR cooed, “Oh, you just got soooo handsome.” It was true.
Once I coached him to speak from that place of the pride and love he had in his daughter he could talk about the difficult situation in his industry that directly impacted his magazine—formerly a stumbling block—with ease and grace.
The more open your CEO or spokesperson is, the more powerful he is. Practice having him remain open and loving when you grill him with tough questions.
That may sound ridiculous, but when we speak as if we were addressing a beloved child it’s pretty hard for the media to retaliate with the same vehemence than toward a man holding a sword ready to strike.
Spending time with your CEO or spokesperson to hone his sound bites, body and facial language to suit any situation will help make rich poetry in troubled times.