Elevator speeches: we help our customers to ZZzzzzzz…

Elevator speeches: we help our customers to ZZZzzzz...Psssttt … did you know that potential customers are bored fartless by the stock answer to “what to do you do,” e.g. “we help people like you to quadruple your turnover in a week / make employees slave 12 hours a day for you until their hands bleed / have rampant sex that makes a jack rabbit look boring / etc.?

Recently I have been attending several face-to-face business networking meetings and as you know, most are prefaced by the ringleader getting everyone to introduce themselves.

Without fail in the last few weeks, each time I hear those words “we help our customers/clients to…” all eyes drop down to the smartphones for a surreptitious email check… [Read more…]

How to write personal “about” pages and bios

Personal “about” pages can take many forms, not least of which is the page that appears on your personal (or your 1-person business) website, blog, blogsite or whatever. These are usually called “bios” (short for biographies) and often a bio is what you’ll asked for to support contributions to a website or magazine, a special interest or sporting magazine, etc., as well as on a platform of your own.

In our current mood of business being driven, to a significant extent, by the influence of social media, these personal “about” pages or bios tend to be informal and chatty and as such provide you with a very good opportunity to express your true personality through what you write.

All the same, you must still bear in mind what your audience wants to know about you, and why. This can vary quite a bit from one purpose to another, but it’s not difficult to tailor your text to suit the requirements.

Let’s say you work as a graphic designer, you live in Milton Keynes with your wife and two young children, your hobbies are gardening, bird-watching and fishing, and you are disabled. For a general “about” piece you would include all that information in roughly that order.

But let’s say you’re contributing a guest post to a blog about fishing. Your order of priority then would change as follows:

Your hobby of fishing and experience of it

  1. Your location
  2. Your job
  3. Your family and other hobbies
  4. Your disability (if you want to, but only if you feel it’s necessary)

If you’re writing for a parenting blog or magazine, the priorities will change again:

  1. Your two children and your wife
  2. Your disability (if it affects the way you parent)
  3. Your location
  4. Your hobbies
  5. Your job

If you’re writing for a publication or website connected with your disability:

  1. Your disability
  2. Your job and how it’s affected by your disability
  3. Your family
  4. Your hobbies

And so-on.

First person or third person?

“About” bios aren’t quite the same as personal selling documents like CVs, however I prefer writing in the third person for more business-inclined and/or formal purposes, and only use the first person where I am expected to write in an informal, me-to-you style.

Here are a few examples of my own texts. Although much of the core information is the same pretty well throughout, you can see how I adapt it and re-angle it to suit the purpose concerned. You’ll see that I use the third person except for the about page here on HTWB, where I think (perhaps wrongly!) that you readers want to read a personal message from me.

100 word bio for writers’ website

Canadian born Suzan “Suze” St Maur has worked as an advertising copywriter, script and speechwriter since the 1970s, as well as researching and writing more than 30 published nonfiction books – with several more in the pipeline. Her key area of expertise is writing for business and general nonfiction, where she helps people produce more effective written material of their own, more quickly – from entire books down to micro-blogging. One of her latest books, “How To Write Winning Non-fiction” is an Amazon category best-seller, and currently she is working on a new book on business writing for the 21st century.

 Personal “about” page on own website

 Check out my About Suzan St Maur page on here!

Bio on book jacket,The Pony Lovers’ Joke Book

Canadian born, UK based Suzan St Maur is a leading international business writer, editor and best-selling author. She has written more than 30 published books including several joke books, of which the all-time favourite, “The Horse Lover’s Joke Book” has been consistently in the top ten Amazon category best-sellers since the early 2000s.

Suzan started riding when she was 11 years old and soon joined the Whaddon Chase Pony Club, of which she has very fond memories and to whom she now occasionally offers her help. She is also a committee member of the BRC affiliated Aspley Guise & District Riding Club. She has had to have a few years off riding due to ill health but spends many a weekend writing for dressage judges.

Suzan lives in Bedfordshire with her son, three dogs, and three cats

Bio on book jacket, “How To Write Winning Non-fiction

Canadian born Suzan “Suze” St Maur has worked as an advertising copywriter, script and speechwriter since the 1970s, as well as researching and writing more than 30 published nonfiction books – with several more in the pipeline. Topics are an eclectic mix ranging from business and marketing to weddings, green living, jokes, jewellery, health and safety, and of course – writing. Suze also edits other people’s nonfiction books as well as coaching them through the writing and publishing process. She lives near Milton Keynes, UK, with her student/musician son and numerous rescued pets. For more information go http://HowToWriteBetter.net

 Bio on book jacket, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom

Canadian-born Suzan St Maur is a researcher, writer and author specialising in business, consumer and humour topics. She has extensive experience of writing across all media in both corporate and entertainment fields, and is also well known as a business and humorous columnist on hundreds of websites internationally. As well as writing her own material she edits other people’s books, scripts and text, and advises on book preparation and publication.

She has over 30 published/commissioned books to her name including the popular “Wedding Speeches For Women,” also by How To Books.

Suzan lives in Bedfordshire, UK, with her teenage son and various pets. She has been married more than once and consequently has personal experience of most of the main issues affecting weddings!

You can read more about Suzan and her work on her website, http://HowToWriteBetter.net

And so-on. All you really need to remember is to adapt your core information to suit the publication, website or other medium involved. Happy writing!

Write right – and make them love you:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

photo credit: moonjazz via photo pin cc

Lift yourself right up with a good elevator speech

Elevator speeches are a delightfully North American invention if for no reason other than North American cities tended to have very tall commercial buildings before the others in far-flung places got there. And anyway, people – whilst travelling in their elevators (lifts) – have the opportunity to share their raison d’ètre with whoever happens to be going up or down with them at the same time.

Despite many big city buildings being unbelievably tall, their elevators move fast, so whatever you say to your co-elevatorees on the way up or down needs to fit into around 30 seconds or so.

Realistically, “elevator speeches” are set pieces in which you need to define why you exist – in business terms – within a very short space of time whether you’re yomping up and down in an elevator, speed-networking at a F2F meeting, or chatting to a potential client while waiting for a bus or train. Whatever the circumstance, this is not the right occasion for trotting out your mini-biography, no matter how concise it might be.

Whereas mini-biographies talk about you, elevator speeches must talk about what you do for your clients. Big difference. However don’t be intimidated. All you need to do is identify how whatever your skill or business capability is, helps clients do their stuff better.

To illustrate, here is a short bio of mine, followed by an equivalent “elevator speech…”

Bijou bio:
Suzan St Maur is a leading business writer, best-selling author, editor and writing coach. Check out how she can help you write more effectively here: http://HowToWriteBetter.net

Elevator speech:
I help people create text that works – from whole books to microblogs. I’m also an editor / proofreader / writing coach with 30+ published books of my own, so I really do know how to help you successfully write whatever you want to!

See the difference?

Yes, but everybody says “I help you do blah-blah-blah” …

And when they do, they’re on the right track. However someone in an elevator with a half-dozen random business people who says:

I can help you get rid of bugs that eat your baby lettuces with my amazing organic, eco-friendly bug deterrent

…isn’t necessarily going to score too many points.

But relax. If you do something that specialized, you don’t need to avoid big city elevators and focus on country buildings where amateur veggie growers congregate to admire the huge size of each other’s cucumbers.

Not only are these latter buildings unlikely to contain an elevator in the first place, but also they are unlikely to contain quite so many potential clients who could use your broader talents.

So, how do you adapt your elevator speech for bigger urban elevators where potential clients could abound? By thinking wider and broader.

Take a few steps back and develop the big picture

Say you are that gardening expert and you can, indeed, show people how to stop bugs destroying their baby lettuce crops.

But … what else does that do?

Sure, we have to assume that some people in that elevator won’t give a sh*t about growing vegetables. A few will, but far more importantly most if not all will be interested in ways to improve eco-friendly, organic ways of making sure their salad is bug-free and clean.

So, how about something like this for your elevator speech:

If you eat salad, I bet you care about how bug-free your lettuce is? Well, my business gets rid of any bugs that could contaminate your salads … organically and safely.

As always, think about “what’s in it for them”

I know I’ve been banging on about “what’s in it for them” for years now but as I’ve pointed out above the sad reality is that your elevator speech needs to ignore, potentially, what you’d really like to say, and focus purely on what you can offer the other people in the elevator.

If in doubt about the content of your elevator speech, check out this article of mine – it’s a bit harsh, but it stops you writing up blind alleys and keeps you focused on what you need.

So – good luck. (And if you do happen to know how to kindly and organically divert bugs away from my young lettuce plants, please share here in the comments….)

Now, give all your writing a lift:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

photo credit: lrargerich via photo pin cc

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