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It happens to us all several times a week. You connect with someone and they ask, “What’s up?” or something similar. If your response is “Not much.” you’ve missed a golden opportunity to sell your product, service, yourself or even just your general happiness.

This is your chance to give an elevator speech. You have less than 30 seconds to capture the listener’s attention and have them ready for the close. Whether you want to take them on a date, get them to invest in your startup or just be a good friend.

So, can you tell your story? It’s ok, most of us can’t. At least not in a short and concise manner that creates interest from the listener. As a result, we could all use tools to help create our story. If you are running a business, from a startup to a family owned farm, you should have a professional help you write your story. That could be your marketing director or a consultant. You are way too busy running your business develop your pitch. And, like most of us, you’re probably not quite objective enough to do so either.

If you want to give it a shot, here are a few quick tips to ‘create your story’;

  1. Know your audience; be they customers or the people you don’t know at your book club, you need to know what their motivations are for listening to you in the first place.
    1. Do they have the potential to buy and if so why?
    2. Do they want me in their network of relationships and if so why?

Once you know the motivation, you know how to frame your story for the audience.

  1. Frame your story; now that you know why they are listening, what is the single most important message you want the audience walk away with? The concept of framing a story is like the frame on your house; if you don’t know what type of house you want – one story, Victorian, Ranch, etc – how can you design a frame? Find the message you want to communicate and build your story around it.
  2. Recognize your audience; they asked “What’s up?” you should let them know you appreciate it. There are many ways to recognize the audience and appreciate them quickly. This will instantly engage them in your story.

Examples would be;

  1. “Thanks for asking, I am excited about my new job…”
  2. “I’m glad you asked, I’ve begun a startup that solves…”
  3. “I appreciate the interest, my firm launched a new product…”
  4. “Thanks for letting me share, my interest in this book club …”

Notice the use of the first person pronouns in each example. The recognition is for them and then the example immediately takes the message to “you” and your story.

  1. Be concise and be brief; have two short and impactful sentences that allow you to determine if the audience is truly engaged. This is the most critical two sentences you will have to communicate. Engage a professional to help you with this (and your full story) if this is for your business. These two sentences must communicate what specific value do you, your product or your service provide the listener.


  • My recent promotion brought me to the customer experience team. We are charged with upgrading the search capabilities of the online shop for The Shoe Store…
  • The startup I am working with allows consumers to finally speak with clothing designers about their purchases. The app will allow people like you and me to get fashion advice when we purchase brand name apparel from the designer themselves…
  • In high school I read ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and was fascinated with Hemingway’s style. As a result I fell in love with early 20th century fiction…

Each of these examples addresses a value or expertise; search upgrades, connection with designers, 20th Century fiction

  1. Have a follow up question; if you want to keep them engaged, ask the listener a question. Not every one will be a potential customer. You have to give them an out but still provide enough information so they can sell you or your service when given the chance.


  • Do shop online often?
  • Do you ever wonder how to match clothes you just bought with what you have in your closet?
  • Are you in a book club?

Your story is how others will remember you, refer you and create value for you by just listening for 30 seconds or less.

So go ahead…tell your story!