One of the more difficult conventions to master of our many traditions is the 90 second announcement. Still, once you have mastered it, it can pay big dividends because it is the perfect answer to “so, tell me about yourself.”
Let’s start out with my favorite mantra: Speech is the slowest form of communication. (As you know, I’m married to a speech pathologist, so I really do know these things.) You honestly can’t cover a lot of details in 90 seconds so you have to pick and choose what you want to say. And, how you say it is also important. Body language and delivery is every bit as important as the words themselves.
Your first objective is to get everyone’s attention. In a room of 25-50 other executives it is especially difficult to stand out. Not only can the acoustics in the room impact your presentation, some folks are preparing mentally for their own presentation and aren’t listening.
You really need to wow them to get them to shift from their own thoughts to the message you are about to deliver. A good opener is vitally important.
Elevator speeches vary with the audience. In a networking meeting your objective is to provide information about who you are so that others will seek you out when the meeting breaks. It is not the time to do a data dump. Being all things to all people is the same as being nothing to anyone. (I don’t know. Is that a quote from somewhere or did I just make that up?)
Anyway, I hate to mix another matter on this already burdened topic, but you also need a readable name badge.
I am fortunate in only having 7 letters to put on my badge. I also have a very large badge. It is truly for the visually handicapped. You may not be able to use type as large as I have, but work at it until you get it as big as you can. If you think about any 90 second pitch, your name is the first thing you tell them, and it is before they know if they want to meet you. If someone starts to approach you after the meeting and can’t remember your name they may turn away at the last moment and you may miss the best networking opportunity of your life. Alas, you will never know that it didn’t happen. This is why you need a name badge.
You also need some kind of closer or conclusion to your talk. We tend to start with the important and move to the unimportant. A summary can work here, perhaps repeating your name and some of the “claims to fame” you have made.
The most important part of 90 second announcements is that you need to practice them, a lot.
Go to as many chapter meetings and networking meetings you can. Never miss an opportunity to “present your credentials.” The old saw “practice makes perfect” is more true here than in most things. See how your presentation plays and listen to those of others.
With a little “off Broadway” show time, you will become a star performer before you know it.