Short Statement – Big Impact


I attended a public business forum last week. I was sitting at my table when a woman approached (I’ll call her Liz) and introduced herself. Liz sat at our table.

UNSPOKEN THOUGHTS: I admired how Liz initiated an introduction. She was very professional and her business cards were very unusual (in a good way). The cards had a very interesting design, and I commented that I liked them very much. I thought Liz was probably a very creative person with flair and I wondered what her expertise was. I assumed she had her own business.

The seminar began. Mid-way through, the facilitator asked if anyone had questions. Liz raised her hand and asked a very relevant question.

UNSPOKEN THOUGHTS: I admired her willingness to be the first person in the room to take a risk and ask an interesting question. Liz was assertive and paying attention.

The facilitation answered her question and then asked Liz what her work was. Liz immediately said in a bit of a shrill voice “Oh, uh, um…I’m unemployed now”. The facilitator moved on.

UNSPOKEN THOUGHTS: Oh no! Liz – why did you say that? My impression of you just crashed. Not at all because you are unemployed, but because you missed a perfect opportunity to present yourself in a way that made you stand out.

What could you have said instead?

What type of work would you be doing if you were employed? What if someone in the room knew of a relevant job – but they didn’t even know what you were looking for? What is your background in?

What type of services could you offer to other business people in the room?

LESSON LEARNED: We need to manage others’ perceptions of us, particularly at open forum meetings. Liz started the day in a very positive way. She was being perceived as professional, interesting, creative and engaged. I was looking forward to talking with her to find out more. With one short sentence, her image changed dramatically and it became a lost opportunity.

What you are going to say when people ask you what you do, or what type of work you are involved in.

Have a short statement ready that focuses on your strengths and experience, and is clear about what type of position you would be a good match for. When people go home from that meeting, people should have a clear idea of what types of positions or projects you could bring your expertise to. (This is sometimes called an elevator pitch)

PREPARE what you are going to communicate to others.

Don’t fly from the seat of your pants.


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