Grab Their Attention
In the movie, "The Player" during a scene at a Hollywood studio executive meeting Mr. Levy shows Reeve, the central character, how to pitch a potential movie story. Levy holds out a newspaper, saying, " Here, read a headline, any headline."
Reeve responds : "Um . . .'Immigrants Protest Budget Cuts in Literacy Program.'"
Levy: "Human spirit overcoming economic adversity. Sounds like Horatio Alger in and the barrio. You put in Jimmy Smits, you got a sexy 'Stand and Deliver.' Next?"
Robert Kosberg, a Hollywood producer convinced a studio to make the 1993 pets -gone-wrong movie "Man's Best Friend." His pitch was "Jaws on Paws".
How quickly can you attract someone's attention and interest? See the power of spare, specific details over speed and volume of speech?
The stories we tell about each other - and the people with whom we want to share our stories are where we create meaning and friendships. As you speak vividly about your experiences with others you make those stories more meaningful and memorable for them to recall and repeat.
You become a more central part of their lives.
Here's some ways to talk and write so other repeat what you say - with pride and joy. Each are easy to practice.
1. Be brief.
If your characterization is sufficiently short then you can repeat it, as an aside or reminder throughout a conversation. Others are more likely to remember and repeat it. Here's some ways to be pithy:
A. Use a familiar word in a new way and you might even capture a trend: Example: Futurist, Faith Popcorm, predicted five years ago that people would want to be "cocooning" in their home.
B. Be catchy, using one or more of these devices:
? Alliteration: "Peak performance" and "high tech/high touch."
? Rhyme: "Jaws on Paws"
? Repetition: "First things first", Steve Covey's advice.
? Puns: Tongue Fu!, title of book by Sam Horn.
C. Employ an unexpected turns of phrase: To connect with people upon first meeting, I suggest "going slow to go fast."
2. Make favorable comparisons with familiar objects
When people in your work world are immersed in their jargon, your remarks can stand out when you make a comparison with a well-liked product, person or situation from outside your profession or industry.
Example: At the high stakes Quist H & Q Healthcare conference, venture capitalists hear 20-minutes talks by CEOs of start-ups and public companies who seek funding or favorable stock analysts' reporters. The tension is high and the schedule is packed. Most presenters speak fast, using a mix of highly technical scientific and finance language. The speaker from bio-tech company, Amgen, walked past the podium to the center of the stage, pulled up one suit and shirt sleeve to bare his raised forearm. He opened his talk, saying, " You will feel the effects of this medical patch faster than it takes a Porsche to go from zero to 90. "
3. Hijack a familiar slogan to use in a new way.
After a company has spent millions to make a slick slogan well-known, twist it in a new direction for your intended meaning. Example: Redwood Hospital in Northern California used this billboard variation of the popualr milk slogan to ask for blood donations: "Got blood?"
4. Anchor your suggestion in a relevent story To pull people into hearing and remembering your view, set it up with a brief anecdote.
Example: What if you wanted to suggest that people were looking at a problem from the wrong perspective? Consider offering this story first: There is an old joke in Soviet Russia about a guard at the factory gate who at the end of every day saw a worker walking out with a wheelbarrow full of straw. Everyday he thoroughly searched the contents of the wheelbarrow, but never found anything but straw. One day he asked the worker: "What do you gain by taking home all that straw?" "The wheelbarrows."
5. Bungle your translation to bring humor
If you are with a worldly group, offer your variation of a well-known expression in a foreign language. Change a single letter and provide a definition for the new expression. Share these rules and your expression with your colleagues and ask for their contribution. New York magazine held such a contest in 2001. Here's some of the winning contributions:
HARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS: Can you drive a French motorcycle?
6. Veil the truth in humor
So much of life is fast-paced and tense. Consider opening a meeting with mock- serious inspiration or admonition, then grinning. You'll find true life, Dilbert-like examples everywhere that you can keep for your dry humored use.
Here are some of my favorites, gathered by Accountemps one year:
"What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter."
(Lykes Lines Shipping)
"This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it."
(Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)
'We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees."
(Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)
7. Encapsulate a Situation
Example: In late 2002 a book by Jenny Lee will be released, entitled: I Do. I Did, Now What?: One Woman's Musings on Married Life, which the agent characterized thusly (after getting our attention): "a rant that (almost despite itself) ends up as a celebration of marriage."
Financial analyst, Alan Parisse shared this perhaps apocryphal newspaper advertisement with me: "For sale. Infant shoes. Never used."
Kare Anderson is the author of LikeABILITY (see Grand Store at http://www.SayitBetter.com), Make Yourself Memorable and SmartPartnering. A popular speaker on SmartPartnering and on how to be more frequently-quoted to become your kind of customers' top- of-mind choice, she also publishs the SayitBetter newsletter, with 32,000 subscribers in 28 countries
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