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How to Tell Your Business Story in 60 Seconds or Less

How to Tell Your Business Story in 60 Seconds or Less

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I recently spoke at LeWeb, a large technology conference in Paris that’s filled with entrepreneurs pitching to venture capital investors who are looking for the next big thing. In such situations where many people are vying for attention, the entrepreneurs who stand out are the ones who deliver their pitch in less than a minute, but still make their points quite persuasively.

Unfortunately, many small-business owners don’t think enough about their company’s story and how it comes across. I can say that with confidence because I’ve witnessed many ineffective pitches at conferences and chamber of commerce mixers. At the last chamber mixer I attended, I asked one person what he did. His response started with, “That’s a good question…” Five minutes later, he was still trying to describe his new company, and I was trying to find a polite way out of the conversation.

Related: How to Make a Personal Connection with Customers

As a communications coach, I’ve developed a four-step exercise that will work for any company or product. You must simply answer each of the following four questions in no more than two sentences:

1. What do you do?
2. What problem do you solve?
3. How is your product or service different?
4. Why should I care?

By keeping each answer brief, you will develop a succinct story that should take no more than 60 seconds.

Let’s use the example of an entrepreneur who is starting a housekeeping franchise. Based on those four questions, the company’s story might sound something like this:

“We own Five Star Cleaning, an eco-friendly housekeeping service that pampers you and your home [what your business does]. Typical cleaning services make you prep your home ahead of time, supervise to prevent theft and hang around for hours while the cleaners do their work. Because we require no prep, this saves time right off the top, and we are bonded so our service is worry-free, allowing you to go about your day [what problem does it solve]. And, we always send a minimum team of three to get the job done quickly [how it’s different]. Imagine coming home from a long day and your laundry is all done, your bed has been turned down and there are fresh flowers awaiting you. That’s the extra pampering we offer that sets us apart from all the rest [why you should care].

Related: Five Strategies for a Winning Sales Presentation

Your first sentence should be a “Twitter-friendly headline.” You should be able to describe your product or service in 140 characters or less, short enough for a tweet. In the example, Five Star Cleaning bills itself as an “eco-friendly housekeeping service that pampers you and your home.” But many small-business owners don’t create product descriptions that are short, catchy, distinctive and memorable. The Twitter exercise will help. If you can’t describe your product in a sentence, go back to the drawing board.

If you can tell your story in well under 60 seconds and have some extra time, be ready to relate an example or story that makes your product or service more tangible. You’ll notice that in the cleaning service pitch, we offered examples of pampering, such as turning down bed sheets.

Don’t let your idea die because you’ve lost the attention of your audience. Grab your listeners in the first 60 seconds and they’ll want to hear more.

 

BY CARMINE GALLO | December 19, 2011|

 

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Pablo Valle

Pablo F. Valle is a Program Manager in the Planning, Engineering, and Construction Department at The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. He manages diverse transportation engineering projects ranging from between $500,000 to $25 million in various engineering areas for the Houston metropolitan region.

Pablo is also an entrepreneur at heart. He is the Founder and President of Small Business Connexion, a Professional Business Organization helping businesses Learn, Grow, and Connect. Pablo also founded a local Houston Professional Business Network (the Latino Professional Business Network) that began with fifteen people and grew to over 4,200 members in less than three years. He has served in numerous leadership roles including; Treasurer and President of the American Society of Civil Engineers – Student Chapter, Board Member of the Chamber of Latino Entrepreneurs, President, Membership Co-Chair, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Institute of Transportation Engineers Houston District. Among his peers, Pablo is known as the “Godfather of Networking”.

Pablo received his Bachelor of Engineering from the City College of New York and his Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from The City University of New York – Graduate Center. He is the recipient of numerous awards including; The Minority Research Careers for Minority Scholar, the Hispanic Serving Institute Scholarship, and the City College of New York President’s award for outstanding leadership.

Pablo is married to his High School sweetheart Tanya N. Valle and together they have three boys; Justin Paul, Jeremy Timothy, and Jayden Christian Valle.

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