Tell Me About Yourself… What’s your 30 second Billboard Speech?

 In human resources, inspiration, leadership, Motivation

NAIL IT!® Success Stories

In my first career I worked in public relations. In my PR role I wrote a lot of news releases. There’s a formula for writing a news release that gets read and it starts with your lead – the first line. Your hook. After that your news pitch either gets thrown in the slush pile or it catches the editor’s attention and gets a more thorough look.

The question “Tell me about yourself” demands a good first line. It’s opening you up to share your lead to let others decide if they want to know more. It’s a tricky question but it’s worth thinking about. It’s a line you can use in an interview, at a networking event, in a performance meeting with your boss, or even hanging with your Aunt Zelda at the family reunion. Your response to that question (or the many versions of that question) will provide the listener with a snapshot of you and what you’re looking for in your career. Or you can end up going down a rabbit hole of giving too much information that leaves the listener zoned out and moving on.

I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of creating that first line of a news release or speech, which is probably why I have a lot of fun creating Billboard Speeches with clients. It’s one of the exercises in my NAIL IT!® career advancement program. But it’s not until session three or four that we typically get to this part. Why there’s nothing worse for me then hearing someone tout a typical, artificial response. And if you’re hired on just your shiny words, I guarantee there will be a disconnect for both you and your employer. We need to get to know you. There are things you are good at, that are important to you, that you’d like more of and then there’s ‘you’.

Here’s one example. This NAIL IT!® participant wanted to take his telecom sales career and advance to the next level. He used this billboard speech in an interview. He said he ended up using his first line right out of the gate.

Example:   Keep in mind I have put an ‘x’ in places to keep the client’s information confidential.

Question:  Tell me about yourself.

Attempt #1:  “I’m a professional; a go getter, I hit all my sales targets. I’m perfect for the role.”

My Feedback:  These are all good words, but it’s a generic response. To leave the listener with the impression that you’re a ‘go getter, perfect for the role, etc,’ we have to create a response that’s more true to you and therefore memorable. Here are some questions to consider: Do you have kids? What specific career successes are you most proud of? What’s a value you want to highlight? How about something you’d love to have in this new and improved role?

Process:  We integrated his responses from the first two exercises in the the NAIL IT!® career advancement program. Specifically, we highlighted what’s working for him (consistently hits targets); his personal value (knowledge) and his reframed slug (he wants to bridge the gap between the technology that supports high performing sales activities).

Revised Billboard Speech (takes about 30 seconds)
“I’ve always been highly competitive. I was recruited to play hockey at a young age to x school and then worked in the National Hockey League in marketing and sales. I’ve transferred those skills to a corporate role where I have consistently met my targets doing x (ie. specific outcome). What I really want is to increase my knowledge and breadth in these products so I can more closely match the technology to support a high performing sales team.  I grew up in x and now live in x with my wife, two kids and an iguana. I still play hockey twice/week and coach my son’s team.”

What I like about a Billboard speech is that once you have it, it can easily be adapted to your audience. If you’re at a networking event you may just use the first three lines. For an interview, they need more of the complete snapshot. So Tell Me About Yourself!

To Your Abundant Success,

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