For a number of years, I have been delivering ‘Networking in the Creative Industries’ workshops for freelancers. The opening session is developing your own ’30 Second Commercial’. All too often, when asked what we do, many people simply reply with a three or four word response – I’m a director, a colourist, I’m a floor manager, etc. With respect, you are probably in a room full of floor managers so how do you stand out? That initial statement you make is the start of your self branding – you are your product. This article is a short extract of the 30 Second Commercial session for freelancers.
With its roots from the American 'elevator pitch', it's the ability to describe your personality, achievements, skills and work experience in just 30 seconds. In most other professions, the advice is for sixty seconds but I believe up to 30 seconds is the norm within media. The tone should be commercial, the sentences short and it should leave the listener wanting to know more. In an era when time is often at a premium, the 30 Second Commercial could be seen as an interpretation of a CV.
Why is it important?
Many of us shy away from self-promotion and stop at telling people what we do, rather than how well we do it. Overcoming this reticence, however, will ensure that you always make a positive and powerful first impression, whether it is at a business event or a speed-networking opportunity. You never know when you're likely to meet that person who could open the door to a new job, career move or major production work, so it's important to have your finely tuned 30 Second Commercial at the ready. Even if the opportunity doesn't come your way immediately, if you've convincingly conveyed what you can offer in terms of future performance, they will remember you.
Where do I start?
Think about what you want to accomplish and what you want them to think or do as a consequence. The pitch is designed to give a decision-maker or potential new client or employer a preview of your talents and abilities. Aim to be both impressive and distinctive so that you stand out from the crowd. Your ultimate goal is to start a dialogue with this person.
"In a world of mediocrity, everything looks more or less the same, so why should they remember you?" says Robert Craven, a business mentor and coach. "What makes you different? If there were a choice between being different or better, then I would choose different every time. People remember different."
Drafting the introduction
Consider your central message, which must amount to more than a brief sum of your key skills and attributes. You need to convey that you are a highly capable individual and emphasise where you've added value to in your profession, how you've solved problems and helped others. While the theme of your message should remain a constant, make sure the way in which you broadcast it always has relevance for the listener - this may mean using different examples. When you talk about your skills, describe how you use them, rather than what they are. Avoid lengthy detail.
What traits do I need?
First, overcome any reluctance to talk about yourself. Learn how to grab their attention and build rapport quickly - use eye contact and body language (mirror their posture) to help you. Be self-assured, but don't talk at your listener, and avoid rushing to get more words in - less is more in this case. Pause when you need to, use open questions and actively listen to their responses.
Rehearse your pitch
Once your introduction is prepared, practise delivering it until it sounds natural, and not like you're reading from a script. Solicit feedback from friends and trusted colleagues, and refine it accordingly. If you're feeling particularly brave prior to an event, put it to the test with someone who is unaware of what you do. If they come back with a question, you'll know you've perfected your pitch.
If you only do 5 things
1 Know what you want your message to accomplish.
2 Make it snappy and memorable.
3 Work out where you add value in your role.
4 Adjust your message to the listener.
5 Don't bombard them with detail.
Skills Channel TV – Developing Your 30 Second Commercial