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During the pivotal moments of our lives, results are often determined not only by our actions but also by our words. Saying the right thing the right way can make the difference between sealing the deal or losing the account, advancing your career or suffering a demotion. In these moments, it’s important to be pitch perfect—to use precisely the right tone to convey the right message to the right person at the right time. In Pitch Perfect, the renowned media coach Bill McGowan shows you how to craft just the right message. Along the way, McGowan lays out his Seven Principles of Persuasion, which are as easy to learn, implement, and master as they are effective. The right language—both verbal and nonverbal—can make you more confident, persuasive, and certain. It can stir people to listen closely to your every word and to remember you long after you’ve left the room.
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Principle 1: An engaging headline
Principle 2: Vivid visual images
Principle 3: Make it rich and brief
Principle 4: Think, then talk
Principle 5: Exude certainty
Principle 6: Be insatiably curious
Principle 7: Play to your strengths
Table of Contents
Always start with your best idea expressed in a thought-provoking headline. Make people immediately think: I want to know more. Don’t bury your lead, copy others or resort to cliches. Start out with a concise and compelling statement.
Is there anything worse than starting your pitch with an apology?
■ “Good morning. I know it’s early and everyone was out late last night partying, so stay with me as best you can through blurry eyes.”
■ “OK, I know it’s been a long morning and this is the last presentation before we break for lunch. I just want to take a little bit of your time.”
■ “Hi. I realize you’ve just had a big lunch and feel like taking a siesta. I promise I will try and keep this lively so you stay awake.”
■ “Good afternoon. I understand this time slot is really hard to fill because there’s a mid- afternoon energy lull. Well, I will do my best to take your mind off that sugar fix you’re probably craving about now.”
■ “It’s been a long day and my presentation is the only thing standing between you and Happy Hour, but I’m just going to walk you through a few key points.”
What were these people thinking when they said those things? The worst possible way to start out your pitch is with an apology of any kind or even a hint you’d rather be somewhere else or doing something else.
Instead, you should always start your presentation with your very best and strongest idea. That’s what journalists do when they write their stories. They put their best point in the headline so nobody misses it. You should do the same. Grab attention by putting your best idea front and center.
So how do TV journalists actually do that? It’s very simple – you make a bold and definitive (or a teaser) statement and then discuss a few succinct follow-up points right at the outset of your presentation.
Some good examples:
■ “New York at Christmas time is incredibly magical. I don’t know how many of you have noticed that in the hustle and bustle of your professional lives. I really could have used some of that magic, though, the other day when I was trying to get across town while the lighting of the tree was going on. Some of you have traveled many miles to get here and some of you might feel like you did just to get across town. To all of you: thank you.”
■ “Hi. I’m Steve Jobs. It is 1958. IBM passes up the chance to buy a young, fledgling company that has invented a new technology called xerography.”
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