Engage and Inspire in Less Than a Minute:
How to Create Compelling Introductions that Speak to the Needs of Those You Serve

By Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

At a recent workshop I taught, a number of participants mentioned how difficult it is to promote their work. “When I’m in my office working with people, it’s easy to share what I do,” one of them commented, “but when I have to introduce myself to a group of people, I don’t know what to say.” His simple sentence encapsulates how many of my clients feel. Many get caught trying too hard to sell themselves and their service rather than connecting with the issues and desires of others.  

For those of you who find yourself in this situation, this simple guide provides five ways to connect what you do with what people need. Instead of having one “elevator pitch” this collection of “pocket phrases” enables you to speak directly to their needs, their desires, and the power of your work to help them have a better life. As an added bonus, these five approaches can also give you great language to use on the web, for articles, in presentations…the list goes on.

My suggestion is to start with the approach that is easiest for you. Then when you’re comfortable with that, try another. And most importantly, please note…THESE ARE NOT SALES PITCHES. They are intended to help you talk about what you do in ways that demonstrate clearly and viscerally how your work can enrich someone’s life.

1. Ask a question

  • “Are you struggling with…?”
  • “Have you ever…?”
  • “When was the last time…?”

“My name is  ___________ and I’m a _________________.
I help people who are    (name issue)    so they can    (state outcome)   .”

2. Share a statistic

  • “Did you know that…?”
  • “In a recent study done by ___________ about _______________, researchers found…”

“My name is  ___________ and I’m a _________________.
I help people who    (name their challenge)   +    (state outcome)   .”

3. Create a stir (This can include a statistic)

  • “If 80% of businesses fail, why do people keep trying? Because…”

“My name is  ___________ and I’m a _________________.
I help people who are    (name the type of challenge)   +    (state positive outcome)   .”

4. Create urgency

  • “With summer just around the corner, are you ready to climb, bike and run?”    
  • “The difficult economy has left many uncertain about their future. If you or someone you love is_________…”

“My name is  ___________ and I’m a _________________.
My   (SIMPLY describe your approach)  to   (state what you will help them “overcome”)   can help you   (state the outcome)  .”

5. Create a “we”

  • “We’ve all had those days when we couldn’t get out of bed. Now imagine that going on for weeks or months.”

“My name is  ___________ and I’m a _________________.
If you know someone who   (name the challenge) ,  I   (state the beneficial outcome) .”

What’s essential is to dare to name the issues that your clients, donors and community face and how what you do will help them overcome their challenge. In the end, it’s really all about them. So stop talking about you and start relating to them. Once you stop selling and start connecting, you’ll find introducing yourself so much easier and more fun.