When new acquaintances or individuals you haven’t seen for some time approach you or you want to impress colleagues, how do you respond to common questions related to what you do for a living? Instead of choking or reacting poorly, perfect your pitch by preparing and deliver it in a clear, concise, and confident manner.
The truth is, how we communicate and articulate our thoughts significantly influences the perceptions others have of us, our organization, and the services offered. Never again be caught off-guard. Learn and practice a flawless strategy to express yourself with poise and polish instead of endless and unclear pontification.
The hallmarks of spoken communication are represented by the three Cs:
1. Clear: a well-defined message that your listener(s) understands
2. Concise: key points stated succinctly and that make sense to your listener(s)
3. Confident: command attention, maintain poise, be more persuasive.
Speaking with greater clarity, conciseness, and confidence begins with structure. When you prepare a message or presentation, you should structure it. One of the most powerful structures I help clients with is called the Rule of Threes. People don’t tend to remember more than three things at a time. This rule is a reliable basic structure that works well. But why?
The Rule of Threes is persuasive, which means your audience is more likely to trust your reasoning with a three-part argument. It’s rhythmical by creating momentum, moving your listeners from point A to point B to point C. Additionally, this method is memorable since it is far easier to remember three points over other numbers like four, five, or six. If you’re skeptical, consider a few three-part examples from your childhood:
- the three little pigs
- the three blind mice
- the three musketeers.
Here are some additional three-part structures that might sound familiar:
- breakfast, lunch, dinner
- knife, fork, spoon
- appetizer, entrée, dessert
- stop, drop, roll
- before, during, after
- red, yellow, green (stop light)
- elementary, middle, high school
- morning, afternoon, evening
- last year, this year, next year.
Granted, sometimes using three points doesn’t pass the common sense test, like when comparing profitability figures for the four quarters of last year. Regardless, this rule is an effective guideline for identifying and structuring key points of a message.
The next time you are planning to attend a networking function—like an educational conference or a business meeting with some unknown faces—prepare for and practice how you can best answer a common question you can anticipate being asked: “What do you do for a living?” For me, I would communicate my pitch by saying, “I love what I do for a living by inspiring and helping others as a keynote speaker, training professional, and author.”
If the person is interested in learning more, they will likely ask a follow-up question such as, “What books have you written?” Because I will come prepared, I would then answer that question by sharing the titles of three of my most relevant books or group them by topic.
Speaking in front of others can certainly be stressful; however, it is a critical skill. It shapes your audience’s perception of you, the organization you work for, and the services offered. And each time you face the fear of speaking, you’ll gain strength, courage, and confidence. But it takes practice. Just remember . . . practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good; it’s the thing you do that makes you good.
Editor’s note: The post was previously published by Tracy Butz on her blog.