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Introduce Yourself Like You Mean It
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I first tried this next exercise in Phoenix, with a group of 40 women at a workshop for the top women beauty salon executives in the country. I was there to help them learn how to be even more successful, and I wanted to start by having them practice selling themselves. Exceptionally well groomed, attractive, and well spoken, they made their livings being "out there" in some sense: educating salon owners, taking care of clients, representing product lines. My guess was, though, that they didn't see themselves in the same warm light I did.
So I asked each woman to stand up and introduce herself, using no more than four lines. It was clearly harder for some women than for others; some apologized for not being good at it, some had to refer to notes, some went on for 16 lines instead of four. One mentioned a "husband who was her hero." Another told us the names of all three of her beloved cats. At the end of the introductions, I asked them what their intentions were when they introduced themselves. After a moment, hands shot up around the room. "I wanted to be vulnerable so I could connect with the other women." "I wanted to get ideas about things I could do better." "I wanted to make everyone laugh." The intention, by and large, was to introduce themselves in a way that made it easy to form relationships with the other women in the room.
Then I asked them to stay at their tables of eight and introduce themselves again. This time they would have exactly the same skills and business experience that they had before. It was just that this time, they would imagine themselves sitting there in boxer shorts and ties: This time, they would introduce themselves as if they were men. The room exploded with a wild energy. As I walked around, I heard very different comments than I'd heard the first time through. "I started my division and tripled revenues within a year." "I launched a new program that completely revitalized my line." "I'm the youngest VP in the history of my company."
Once again, I asked about intentions. As "men," the intentions were about power: letting everyone know what a big guy they were (actually, there was more sexual innuendo than that, but this excerpt is from is a PG-rated book), wanting to assert dominance, wanting to prove how important they were.
This difference in intentions is particularly important at two points in pitching: when you introduce yourself and when you are trying to close. That's where to really think about the style you want to use at these two stages in the pitching process. So try the exercise for yourself and see whether your results are similar to the women's in Phoenix (and everywhere else I've tried it).
Even though I am asking you to consider a style shift when you introduce yourself, does that mean you should act like a man? No. It simply means that there are two places in a pitch where matching up styles can be vital.
Excerpted from the book: Pitch Like a Girl: How a Woman Can Be Herself