PO Box 920559
Needham, MA 02492



The Key to Engaging Any Audience

Can you spot the (subtle) difference between these two opening questions:

1. “Who here knows what Rotary does?”

2. “Who here has ever helped someone?”

My Rotary Club is presenting dictionaries to two groups of 50 third graders, and we got two very different reactions to the two ways of explaining what Rotary does.

The first question gets a lot of confused looks, then a few raised hands, and a timid and halting and vague guess.

With the second question, every hand shoots eagerly into the air and everyone is proud to share their answer (picking up pencils, cleaning the dishes, donating food, …). It leads to a lively and spirited discussion.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because if your goal is to engage a group of people, you want to connect to their shared experience.

Get them talking about themselves.

I mean, notice that the first question doesn’t even really connect with the kids who have heard of Rotary.

Even they are unsure if what they know is right, since they’re talking about us, instead of about themselves.

They are much more confident in their own experiences.

Everyone is.

So, in your Elevator Pitch, instead of asking if people are familiar with HIPAA compliance, ask if they’ve ever had to sign a form at a doctor’s office that they didn’t understand.

Instead of asking if they understand Search Engine Optimization, ask what they searched for on Google today.

Instead of asking about their IT strategy, ask about the last time their hard drive failed.

People love to talk about their experiences.

Your goal with your Elevator Pitch is to get them talking about themselves in terms of you.

Find the universal theme that connects with them, and use that to start the conversation.

What universal experience do your clients share?

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