EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Since 1997 when I began as Chairman of The FENG, I have been listening to 90-second announcements at our meeting here in Westport. My best guess is that I have heard at least 10,000 of them over the years. I guess you could say I can speak with some authority on this subject. (And no, my ears haven’t fallen off as a result.)

Like most financial types, I do much better reading information than listening to it. If you handed me your pitch I would be better able to absorb it, no matter how you had structured it.

What you are working against is the fact that speech is the slowest form of communication. (Smoke signals might be slower, but not many folks use them.)

Commercials on national TV at 30 seconds are a good model of the difficulty of getting it right with severe time constraints. It takes 10 seconds to bring it up and 10 seconds to bring it down. There really are only 10 seconds of meat. In much the same way, your 90 seconds can get chewed up pretty fast if you let it.

My first question when you begin speaking is what kind of financial guy/gal are you. We do come in many flavors. If you are a manufacturing type, please say so. Are you a banker? Are you an international banker? Are you a treasurer? What is your defining theme?

If you provide me with this information at the beginning of your presentation I will better know what I am listening for. Your theme song, like a good commercial should be easily solicited from anyone hearing you. In my pitch I start out with the idea that my experience is primarily advertising and publishing and I follow with the general statement that I have about a decade in each industry. (I actually have 9 years in advertising, but then it felt like a lot more. This will have to be left as a sad story for another time.)

Why do I say 10 when it was 9? I do it because it is easier for my audience to absorb. The EXACT details of my wealth of experience are best left to my resume which is a different kind of communication tool and serves a different purpose.

Why do I say advertising and publishing? I lay that out at the beginning because I want my listeners to understand the nature of my experience. I am not a financial technician as much as I am an educator of very smart people in the mysterious realm of accounting and finance. Teaching very bright individuals my craft encouraged them to teach me theirs. By doing so, we all made tons of money.

The other reality of being a financial person is that we tend not to spend a lot of time thinking about what it is we do every day as perceived by the outside world. Much of our art and science is of little interest to those outside of our profession. Anyway, we don’t tend to change jobs as frequently as other disciplines and have less need to think about it at that level. (We also don’t have much time to think at ethereal levels when we are working.)

Well, to get another job you have to know how to explain yourself briefly. Building on a theme is the only way you can make it all make sense. Are you an implementer of large scale computer systems? What is involved in that and why did those tasks fall to you? Could it be that you have a special talent for them? (Or, it could be you got the short straw. If that was the case we won’t mention it.)

If I know where you are going as you begin talking, if you provide me with some kind of frame work at the beginning, everything you say that follows will have a place in my mind.

It also may have a place in my heart and I will then know how you fit and which of my very many friends would be most interested in meeting such a fine and well-spoken individual.

Who knows, I just might introduce you to Santa Claus. (That’s the person who offers you a job.)

Regards, Matt

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