By Larry Schuster
Can you tell the world who you are, what you do, or why you do what you do in 140 characters or less?
Or maybe a better question would be: Can you tell the world what you want them to know about you in that same space? And imagine that’s all the space you have.
I asked that question of about 50 people recently, and no one was properly prepared to share their personal “headline.” One person used this precious time to share how he was too short to reach his dream as his very first words. But why highlight a “failure” that you have no control over or any other failure, for that matter? If you do, isn't that like overwhelming amazing music with common noise?
Ultimately, he had a marvelous message: he helps others achieve their dreams. I’d like to hear more about that in those 140 characters.
Shining the light
In 140 characters, where do you want to shine the light on who you are? How about a message so shiny and clear it might even change your own image of yourself if you could see it and hear it?
True, I didn’t really give those 50 people a good model to follow. But if you think about it, it seems like a pretty basic question. Consider that after your name, those could be the next most important few words of all the messages you ever deliver at business networking events and social gatherings or job interviews.
Just 140 characters or less. That’s the size of a Weibo headline, and people have no trouble publishing headlines each day that attract millions of readers to their microblogs. But consider: why not do the same for the one topic you know best of all – YOU!
Most important headline
Isn’t that the one headline that is the most important? And if your own personal Weibo headline is well crafted, you can even use it as a branding statement at the top of your resume!
And then just follow that with three bullet points and supporting stories, data, examples to support that headline. And then we’d know a lot about you. We’d certainly know what you want us to know about you.
This entire presentation of who you are can take one minute or less – two minutes maximum if you add another layer of detail. Then, in five or seven very short sentences you would have highlighted all the key points about who you are for your audience.
Customize for your audience
That is your story that you can customize for different audiences. This type of short, well-crafted speech is especially important for that old standard question in job interviews: “Please, can you tell me about yourself?”
Wouldn’t you want to have a crisp answer that highlights or summarizes in just two minutes the key influences, experiences, accomplishments that led you to that interview?
I coached a Chinese job candidate who did not have perfect English prepare such a two-to-three-minute speech for an interview with a global company, and it worked beautifully, ultimately leading to a solid job.
This is really a prepared speech, and it’s your one chance to showcase your ability to solve one of the simplest of all human problems: how to express who you are – customized for that audience of interviewers. Through careful, sensitive interviewing, a coach can help you create a crystal clear, simple story and message your interviewer really wants to hear.
Now we invite you to send in your headlines about yourself. What do you want us to know about you in 140 characters or less?
Senior Consultant, Crescendo Communications Consulting