Tips for Crafting Your Personal Commercial - dummies

Tips for Crafting Your Personal Commercial

By Susan Chritton

There are a few fast rules when developing your personal commercial. A number of terms can describe your professional introduction to another person — for example, the elevator pitch, the 30-second commercial, or the personal commercial.

Regardless of what you call this introduction, you need to be able to describe (quickly!) who you are, what you do, and the elements of your personal brand. Depending on your situation, this spiel may last from 15 seconds to usually no more than 2 minutes.

At its best, your personal commercial sparks the interest of the listener. You say something interesting to get that person’s attention and ask for more information. The personal commercial is one of the most critical pieces of your communication toolbox because you use it to develop other tools.

The personal commercial is one of the hardest pieces of the branding process for people to feel comfortable with. It seems to contradict all the messages you hear about not bragging or tooting your own horn. Discovering how to introduce yourself the right way, though, can boost your self-esteem.

Avoid common mistakes

When you begin to build your personal commercial, you aren’t really answering the full version of “Tell me about yourself.” Not everyone in every situation cares to know all about you. Before you respond, you need to put your statement in context and adapt what you’re going to say to your audience.

For example, if you were at your high school reunion, you might speak about yourself one way. You’d want a different message for a professional association or work-related meeting, however.

Common mistakes people make when introducing themselves include the following:

  • Being too personal in a business setting. Telling a potential employer I love to eat bonbons and watch soap opera reruns on the weekends is bad form; no one cares except your closest friends. Also, be wary of sharing too much information about a difficult family situation — a divorce or illness, for example. Share only the basics of your personal life when first meeting a business colleague.

  • Giving your complete life chronology. Almost always, such a retelling of your life story will be too much information. I was born in Minnesota, and we lived there until the third grade. Then we moved to Chicago where I went to two high schools. Maybe — just maybe! — you’d share this kind of info on a first date with someone, but not a potential employer.

  • Reciting your resume. These are statements such as I was a department manager and then was promoted to buyer. I stayed there three years and then was promoted to district manager for two years. If you’re interviewing for a job or trying to win an interview, you want to home in on the highlights of your experience and skills.

    If you’ve already secured an interview, you can assume that the potential employer has spent time reading your resume and doesn’t need to be reminded about every last detail.

  • Sharing inappropriate information about yourself. Believe it or not, some people think it’s okay to share info such as I was just at a medical appointment and had this mole removed. Yikes! When you’re introducing yourself to someone, steer clear of any subjects that could make your listener squirm.

  • Sharing inappropriate information about others. Especially in a business context, saying something like my ex-boss was a bit of an alcoholic — I was always having to cover up for her isn’t going to win the trust of your audience. Show that you have some restraint and stay far away from gossip of any kind.

Another mistake some people make is relying completely on their rehearsed personal commercial when introducing themselves. Understand who you’re talking to and adjust your commercial to that audience.

Align your message with your brand promise

Delivering on your brand promise means putting into action what you want to be known for. When you understand your brand, you can more effectively tell your story. Doing so makes you able to live your brand in all aspects of your life.

After you draft your personal commercial, revisit your brand promise and make sure that it’s represented in the message you plan to convey. If it isn’t, you need to revise your personal commercial until the message and the brand promise are in synch.

You want to be able to live up to your unique promise of value. Crafting a remarkable personal commercial — as well as other stories about yourself and your brand — is an impressive way to highlight to your audience what you’re capable of doing.

Hone your personal pitch

Before you take your personal commercial on the road, here are a few tips to help you build your strategy:

  • Know who you are talking to.

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

  • Understand your personal brand and the unique promise of value that you bring to your audience.

  • Be authentic in your enthusiasm for who you are and for what you do.

  • Show confidence — even if you lack it. Don’t let anyone see you sweat.

  • Be genuinely personable.

  • Convey a sense of presence.

  • Avoid acronyms and technical jargon unless you’re among people who understand what you’re talking about.

  • Keep it short and simple.

  • Rehearse your statement over and over until it sounds natural

  • Rehearse some more.

One clever strategy is to let the other person go first with introductions. That way, you have a better chance of knowing your audience before you begin speaking.