How to Be Different in a Short Conversation
We’ve all been at conferences or similar events where you meet lots of people and hear about lots of different backgrounds/roles/companies. You often have short periods of time interacting with people who you likely have never met before. While you know every in-and-out of your company and personal story, the person you are speaking with may know nothing about you or your area. How do you ensure they understand what you do, but more importantly walk away remembering that conversation as one that was different (hopefully in a good way)?
Three things to think about are the answer, the story, and the repetition.
Oftentimes you are head down in whatever latest challenge you are facing. It could be launching a new product, fundraising, growing sales, etc. You often have your story down about what you/your company does, but in the big-picture context “so-what”. How are you different from any other company leader? How is your product different from other solutions in the market? By having a simple and solid answer, it not only shows your awareness of the world around you, but it also gives you (and the person you are meeting with) clear focus on what your hook is. Being great and unique on a key point is usually more valuable than being good at lots of things.
Tell a Story
People remember stories vs. speeches … and the simpler the better. How many graduation speeches or other talks have your heard that you thought were good, but then immediately after you could hardly recall any details? Contrast that to someone who told you a story. In a story, you can have heroes and villains, analogies, and emotional moments. Part of telling the story is you create a mental framework that people can relate to vs. a stream of words without a visual. As an example, you could say you have a product that improves the user experience at sporting events. Or you could tell the story of helping a veteran, attending their first game since returning home, have a more memorable night with their daughter with upgraded seats. Which do you think is more memorable? Check out how Garrett Langley spoke of his early ventures.
Nothing commits things to memory better than repetition. If you are trying to remember a person’s name, the more you repeat it the more likely you will remember it. In any interaction, the more you can open/close and reiterate your key points the better. Your point may differ depending on your audience, but when you open with it, close with it, and talk about it in the middle you increase the likelihood that the person you are speaking with will remember.
In any large group interaction setting, you will meet lots of people who in turn have been meeting lots of people. Know your key points of differentiation, practice the story, and ensure you repeat those simple key points in the conversation. Doing these three things will increase the chances that a future co-founder/customer/investor will walk away with a memorable encounter that can lead to more conversations.