EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

From time to time I get requests for information on how to do a proper 90-second announcement. So, I thought tonight I would share a few thoughts with you on this linguistic challenge.

Since my wife is a speech pathologist by trade, I can tell you with great authority that speech is the slowest form of communication. Smoke signals may be a tad slower, but they aren’t in common usage these days. And, with the drought we have had in many parts of the country, they probably aren’t a good idea anyway these days, not to mention the fact that they are hard to use at networking gatherings.

Of course, you want to begin your 90-second announcement with your name. It is after this that things generally fall apart. 90 seconds just isn’t a lot of time. If you are one of those folks who begins at the beginning and works your way to your current responsibilities, you will lose your audience very quickly. You have probably heard it before, but your most recent 10 years are the most important. Focus on them.

I believe that you should start by “staking out your territory.” I tell people that my background is primarily advertising and publishing. I then tell them that I was CFO of an advertising agency for almost a decade. Book ended around that were two experiences in the publishing industry. Early in my career I worked for Holt Rinehart & Winston when they were owned by CBS, and my last corporate job was with The Thomson Corporation (now Thomson/Reuters). The Thomson Corporation is an information publisher and I was with their West Group division, a legal publisher.

I leave out my first job in retailing because it isn’t in any way relevant. I also leave out a job I had for only 5 months, again because it is not relevant. I close with a few words about my consulting practice and The FENG.

That’s me. Your 90-second announcement will be very different. The only common element I recommend strongly is staking out your territory. Are you an Internal Auditor? Are you a manufacturing expert? Please, I beg you, give me a frame of reference.

Step two is to keep it simple. I can probably only hang onto 3 important things about you, so choose wisely. If you have worked for brand name companies, be a name dropper. The guy from GE Capital is easy to remember. The guy from Morgan Stanley is easy to remember. If you have no brand name companies to report, find something else to make your 90-seconds of fame something I can remember and repeat.

The repeat part is the most important. It’s fine if you tell me and I nod knowingly, but you are actually depending on me to tell other people. While I may have a good impression of you, if you don’t make it easy for me to say something about you to those I know, I can’t spread your fame and fortune.

A good 90-second announcement needs to be practiced in front of a live audience. I can think of no better place than your local chapter meeting. Not only is it a live audience, it is a friendly audience. Practicing in front of the mirror is certainly better than nothing, but you are talking to yourself. Hard to get much in the way of feedback, unless you are prone to disagreeing with yourself.

Oh how we love to rattle on. Well, you can’t. Think through what you want to say and actually put a clock on it. And, no cheating. Talking faster is the equivalent of using 8 point type on your resume instead of taking sharp electronic pencil to it. You have 90 seconds of clearly spoken communication to get your ideas across.

Make the most of the time. “Primarily due to, partially offset by” has no place or time in your announcement. Why you left your last job is a sad story and not of interest in this context. I also find the discussion of geographic limitations not useful. They may be true, but save it for a later private conversation.

Well, I hope this gets everyone started. If you have suggestions about 90-second announcements that you would like published in our newsletter, please send them to Leads@TheFENG.org and Leslie will put them in our Notes from Members section.

Regards, Matt

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