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  • Lacy Starling

#86: Nail Your 30-Second Commercial

I, like everyone in the known world, have been spending a LOT of time lately in virtual networking meetings. You know the kind—Brady Bunch/Hollywood Squares screens full of tiny faces, all trying to make eye contact with everyone at the same time. There are benefits and drawbacks to these meetings, just like there are with every kind of networking meeting, but one of the biggest issues I see is that if you don't have a well-polished, easy to understand 30 second introduction, you are dead from the start.


Yesterday was a perfect example. I was in a networking session where everyone was supposed to introduce themselves in 30 seconds and the first person who went took two and a half minutes and I still don't know what he does, or sells, or why he was even there. And I'm not trying to be a mean girl here—there was a ton of sympathy in the room for him, because it was obvious he was drowning and there was no way for us to save him in this format. That's one of the drawbacks of virtual networking—if you start to flail in real life, speaking one on one with someone, they can often bring you back to shore with a quick question, but that is much harder across a screen full of 25 other people.


As a college professor, the first assignment we always did in my classes was a 30-second introduction, what has been called forever the "elevator pitch" but which is probably more accurately called the "Zoom introduction" these days, since no one is crazy enough to get on an elevator with someone else, let alone talk at them and risk spraying them with Covid droplets. We often, erroneously, think that introducing ourselves will be easy—I know myself, and it's easy to talk about what I do!—but it is actually an art. You need to practice and refine and try out new ways of saying things and turns of phrase to see what lands well and makes people want to hear more.


So, to all of you out there in Zoom land, get to work. Practice on your dog, the mirror, the other folks in your bubble, and get to the point where you have a tight, compelling, dynamic 30-second introduction. Because no one can throw you a life preserver on Zoom.

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