Make a Good Impression in 30 Seconds

Posted on April 14, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |


Ron Ashkenas

Ron Ashkenas

Ron Ashkenas is a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and a co-author of The GE Work-Out and The Boundaryless Organization. His latest book is Simply Effective.

This post was co-authored with Holly Newman.

Here in the U.S., the Super Bowl this weekend showed us the power of 30-second advertisements, and how influential they can be in promoting a company’s awareness. But how often do we craft our own 30-second spots with audiences that we want to influence?

Most of us are not in the business of making TV commercials, but in conversations there is almost always a 30-second moment that can make the meeting memorable.

Malcolm Gladwell touches on this phenomenon in his book, Blink. He talks about “thin-slicing,” or “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.” He explains how too much information can cloud an individual’s ability to accurately analyze a situation, and how “in good decision making, frugality matters.” In other words, mini-impressions do count. And although you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you do get many chances to make the next impression.

So how do you turn your moment into an award-winning spot? Let’s look to advertisers for guidance:

Capture your audience’s attention. Think about one of your favorite commercials (or you can pick one from the game). Which part of that commercial stays with you? What technique did the advertiser use to draw you in — humor, aesthetics, emotions, surprise, or something else? Think about how you could incorporate that technique into your next important conversation.

Convey a clear message. Consider the key message for the target audience. What did the company try to convey, and how did the advertiser use that to connect with viewers? How did they frame the message to make this point? Now, think about your own messaging — what is the most critical takeaway you would like your viewers to receive? How might you deliver your message to ensure your audience walks away with this understanding?

Focus on differentiation. Think about what distinguishes your advertiser from the rest. How did the company use the commercial to portray its unique brand? Think about the same for yourself: What sets you apart from others? How can you highlight your distinctive qualities?

When you combine these three elements, you’ve got the potential for an influential “spot.” The key is having these components ready so that you can recall them when needed. For example, the best salespeople are always prepared to connect with potential customers who say that they don’t have time to talk. Similarly, the best leaders often are not those who speak the longest or the loudest, but those who convey their ideas in a memorable way, and can do it over and over again.

Our world is filled with noise, information, and distractions; so having someone’s undivided attention — even for 30 seconds — is an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. If you can use those 30 seconds to capture their attention, deliver your message, and distinguish yourself from others, you’re likely to be heard, understood, and remembered. What sponsor wouldn’t want that?

More blog posts by Ron Ashkenas

More on: Communication, Managing yourself, Personal effectiveness

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