The Pitch Episode 105: I’m Fine, But Please Get To The Point
Working with the media has made me a little too direct. Learn where to draw the line between balancing chit chat with directness.
I’m Fine, But Please Get To The Point
In social settings it’s encouraged to not be so direct with people and start with a little chit chat first. How’s the weather? How’s the family? How was your weekend? In a media interview there is no time for chit chat and answering questions directly is preferred by journalists, but what about pitching? Where do you draw the line between balancing chit chat with directness? Before you pitch, consider who you are pitching to determine your level of directness. For pitching journalists or anyone else under intense deadlines be as direct as possible, especially if they are not expecting your call, and you don’t know them that well. Nothing aggravates me more than receiving a call from someone I don’t know who is trying to pitch me on something, but asks, “How are you doing today?” I’m busy and I don’t have time to chit chat with someone I don’t know. I do respect the person who cold calls me but gets right to the point. And if it’s something I need I will engage with that person. I find journalists to be very similar. However, if you are pitching a potential client that you’ve been massaging for some time or making a presentation on a conference call to a group of colleagues or board members, a little chit chat is OK to get your pitch warmed up. It shows you care about them and more importantly you are interested in them beyond your pitch. Just watch your time and don’t go overboard talking about the weather or your weekend activities. Especially on conference calls where most people are on a tight schedule. “The Pitch” challenge today: determine if your default opener with pitching is more prone to chitchat or directness. If it’s chitchat, work on being more direct and literally watching your time at the beginning of your pitch. You shouldn’t be spending more than a minute on small talk in most pitching situations. If your default is directness, then develop a couple of small talk one-liners that you are comfortable opening with so it doesn’t feel so awkward when you are on a conference call or in a pitch meeting where you need to ease into the pitch first. I was on a call with a new client last Friday. It was my last call of the day and week, but it was my official launch call with this client. Some small talk was in order since we are now in a client / publicist relationship, which is hard for me because I’m pretty direct all day from pitching media. So I say to my new client, “Happy New Year, I’m great.” He says, “I didn’t even ask you how you were, but I’m glad you’re great.” Uhhhh busted again. So I’ll continue to work on my small talk skills; what do you need to work on? Being more direct or adding a little more chit chat?
Have you ever had someone get aggravated with you for not getting to the point quick enough? How did you handle this?
Have you ever had someone feel “put off” by your directness? How did you compensate for this to smooth out the relationship again?