Day 18: define yourself
Welcome back to Confidence Boot Camp for Day 18, and yet another enlightening technique you can use to help build your confidence. We’re really proud and happy to have you following us, and we sincerely appreciate the feedback many of you are providing to us about how things are working for you.
Today’s inspiration comes from the Physical Confidence domain of The Chemistry of Confidence. We love building physical confidence because it feels so actionable (to borrow a buzzy phrase from business-speak). Just tell me what to DO, and I can just do it, right? That’s exactly what we’ve got in store for you today.
WHAT’S YOUR BRAND?
A little context: Most of us are aware by now that we each have a “brand”. If you think of a product brand, for example, it’s most often a well-designed identity that we come to know over time because we have a consistent experience of it. Without often being aware of it, we develop preferences for one brand or another, because the brand represents something to us that is aligned with our own values—taste, quality, monetary value, trust, service, etc.
When we think about a personal or professional “brand”, it’s very much the same thing: The identity that you project and the experience others have of you. Our brand can be “by design”, meaning you have carefully crafted your persona and style to influence others’ opinions of you, or “by default”, the way you are naturally without much attention or concern about how others see you. It is not that one is right and the other is wrong; awareness of how others see us and experience us is simply helpful if we want to increase our authenticity, our confidence, and our “comfort in our own skin”.
You can read in nearly every trendy fashion or business magazine how to design a “brand” that will impress others in one way or another. A personal brand actually consists of many verbal and non-verbal elements that communicate to others who we are and what’s important to us, including the energy we project, our style of dress, our stance, our voice tone, volume and quality, our mood, our facial expressions, our word choices, and our warmth and openness to others.
The more we can be both purposeful and authentic in the “design” elements of our brand, the more comfort and confidence we can feel in our own ways of being. We all have parts of our brand that we can certainly manage more effectively to be more influential with others. And we all have natural “default” elements that we can invite out from their hiding places to help us connect more authentically with ourselves and with others.
DEFINE YOURSELF WITH AN ELEVATOR SPEECH
Today we are going to highlight one specific portion of our brand development that actually impacts several others, and ask you to define yourself—your work or your activities and why you do them—by writing an elevator speech.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of the “elevator speech”, the phrase is credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, editors at Vanity Fair in the 1990’s, who encouraged their staff members to be prepared for serendipitous meetings with executives on elevators. Their aim was to encourage staffers to prepare a brief but memorable introduction that could be delivered during an elevator ride from the lower floors to the top-level C-Suites. They wanted to give their team members visibility and the chance to pitch new ideas or report on new projects quickly to get the attention of senior executives.
We think that developing an “elevator speech” (or elevator “pitch”, as some prefer to call it) helps you clarify for yourself and others briefly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it or why you love it, and what you hope to achieve by doing it. By making it brief and to-the-point, and by knowing it well so you are prepared under any circumstances, you raise your confidence a few notches because you don’t find yourself fumbling around for words while your Lizard Brain whispers in your ear, “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
There are many different approaches to elevator speeches, some simple and straightforward, and others designed to engage the other person in a longer conversation. The most important thing to consider is, “Who is my audience?” You’ll likely give a different introduction to the person sitting next to you on an airplane than to your neighbor at a barbecue, or one of the senior executives at your company, or a potential customer you’ve just met for the first time.
Here are three simple formulas that can help you get started:
#1 SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD
This approach may be best for brief introductions, networking events, plane-seat companion conversations, or any interactions that are short and sweet. You are simply introducing yourself and giving some context.
“I am a _______________ (describe your current role—not title)
working with ______________________ (who are your customers or colleagues?)
to __________________________ (what’s the purpose of your work?).”
Here’s an example:
“I am a work-at-home mother, raising two pre-school children and operating my own medical-billing service business, to balance my personal goal to be the primary caretaker for my own children and my professional goal to keep my skills sharp and provide for my family.”
#2 PROMOTE YOUR ORGANIZATION
Use this approach when you are representing your company or business, and you need to both introduce yourself and highlight what your organization does.
“My name is________________.
I am with ___________________. (Insert name of company you work for)
We work with _________________ (Insert X) who __________________ . (Insert Y)
We help them ______________ (Insert Z) so that __________________.” (Insert W)
Hello, my name is Jessica Jones. I am with Smith and Taylor Family Law.
We work primarily with victims of domestic abuse and children who need legal services and advocacy in the court systems. We help them gain access to all the services they need to help them rebuild their lives and become independent, self-reliant and productive.
#3 START A CONVERSATION
Use this approach when the person you are speaking with may not have the slightest idea what you mean when you say, “I work for a marketing research company.” (They’ll usually just nod their head and pretend to know what that means.)
“Do you know_____________________?”
(Describe a situation that identifies the pain or need that your product or service addresses.)
“What I do _______________________”
(Describe your service.)
(Describe the benefit it delivers.)
“Do you know how they come up with new ice cream flavors, and how they know which flavors people will buy?”
“What I do is marketing research for consumer products. Before a company releases a new product, there are several phases of consumer testing they go through. I conduct focus groups, and product sampling procedures, then gather and report my research data to the company, so that they know whether to move forward with branding and marketing the product, or returning to the lab for adjustments.”
- Think of an upcoming situation in which you might need to introduce yourself with an elevator speech. Then select one of the above approaches you think might work best for the situation.
- Write out your elevator speech, using one of the simple formulas above. You don’t have to follow every word exactly, but make sure you cover all the parts of that formula.
- Find someone you trust, and share it with him or her. Get feedback on your word choices and how you describe yourself. Be authentic and don’t either underplay or overplay yourself. Imagine yourself saying this to a real person, so you don’t need to be perfectly polished or sound like a robot.
- Once you are comfortable with your “script”, take your cell phone and make a selfie video. (We know you hate to see yourself on video, but just do this.) If you’re not comfortable with the selfie, ask your trusted person (from #3 above) to record you.
- That’s it! (See? We didn’t ask you to post it or share it. This one is all for you.) All we ask you to do is watch it every day for a week to see if it “fits”. Is it what you want to say to define yourself to others? What about your delivery—do you seem warm, authentic, assertive (or however you want people to experience you)?
- If it’s not what you want, do it over. You’ll find as you watch it every day, you’ll feel if it’s the right thing for you, and you’ll get more comfortable with hearing yourself say it.
Defining yourself with an elevator speech is a very simple thing to do, but will actually give you a pretty good return on the brief investment of time. Not only will others get a clearer picture of you, but every time you introduce yourself, you are actually reconfirming to yourself the what and the why of the things you are doing. The clearer we get with ourselves, the more confident we become.
Thanks for staying with us, and we will see you tomorrow for Day 19. Big hugs from your Confidence Boot Camp Trainers.
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