I was recently invited to an early morning networking meeting (6.45am in this case) where business people meet weekly with the aim of bringing business referrals to each other. It’s a regular weekly commitment, and every member does a ‘one minute pitch’ to remind everyone what they do, and tell them what business they are looking for.
I was asked to be a guest by one of my newsletter readers, Abhi from Lifesize Videos who is a member of this group. Although I haven’t done any business networking for some time, we had met several years ago at another networking event. She had signed up to receive my newsletter, and has been on the mailing list ever since.
After a warm welcome from a couple of the regular members over a cup of coffee, I asked about the format and was told that I too would be invited to stand up and present my ‘minute’. As a guest, I wasn’t expecting this! Thrown into a bit of a panic, I wondered what on earth I could say other than ‘Hello, I’m Jane and I’m a marketing consultant’ – as you will no doubt now, writing something short and succinct takes a lot more effort and time than waffling on. Having not been networking for a couple of years, I didn’t have a ‘ready to go’ introduction, so I settled on explaining how I’d come to be at the meeting.
Winging it is risky
Now, I deliver training courses on presentation skills, and one of the key messages is to PREPARE! There’s a very good reason for that. When you’re not prepared, you can slip up and miss out key information (which you can often get away with because nobody knows what you forgot to say) but worse than that, you can fluff up the ending.
The beginning and end of any presentation are the most important bits. They are the sentences that people remember, and leave an impression.
Talking about my newsletter was fine, and the fact that it was the reason for my invitation to the meeting, but when it came to the end, I’m ashamed to admit that because I was unprepared, I ended with the immortal words “That’s it!”
In presentation world, that is the biggest sin ever! Why? Because it’s bland, meaningless and there is no call to action. What I should have said was something like …
“So if you’d like to see why Abhi likes my newsletter so much, let’s have a chat afterwards and I’ll send you an example”
Hey, it was early in the morning, I was taken by surprise and … enough excuses. I won’t go to a networking meeting unprepared again!