Business Writing and Presentations
    Wed., Sep. 4-Dec. 11, 2019
    6:25-9 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (graduate course)

    Presentation Skills for Introverts®
    Thu., Mar. 26 & Apr. 2, 2020
    6-8:55 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (2-session workshop)


    How to "Talk the Talk" at Professional Events (free)
    Columbia University Alumni Career Services

    How to Think on Your Feet: Improv Skills for Business
    Co-facilitators: Nancy Ancowitz and Carl Kissin
    American Management Association

    How to Deliver Powerful Presentations as an Introvert
    American Management Association

    Essential Management Skills for Introverts
    American Management Association

    How to Project Confidence with Demanding People
    American Management Association

    Secrets of Successful Public Speaking
    American Management Association


    Tango for Leaders
    For organizations

    Success Strategies for Introvert Leaders
    National Institutes of Health
    (Workshop for NIH employees only)

    Publisher's Weekly
    "Best Books"
    The New York Times
    "Currently winning our race for most intriguing book title of 2009 is the oxymoronic “Self-Promotion for Introverts” by Nancy Ancowitz (McGraw Hill). The 'how to' book is filled with tips (rehearse is a favorite). The author’s tone is supportive and she does not argue that introverts should become live wires. But what else would you expect from a book whose subtitle is 'the quiet guide to getting ahead'?"
    The Wall Street Journal
    "…showing how quiet people can turn their innate strengths into an advantage when networking."
    ABC News
    "Best Book Gifts"
    Los Angeles Times
    "Whatever's behind your reluctance to speak out for yourself, this is the first book I've seen with serious research on the topic that leads to a new game plan."
    CIO Insight
    "Must-Read Fall Books for IT Execs"
    "Best New Career Books"
    "Offers a solid dose of practical advice—alongside humorous anecdotes.... Ancowitz shows introverts how to take advantage of the unique qualities and strengths they can offer."
    The Independent Consultant
    "There is great value in this book, whether you are promoting your own business or consulting practice, or just want to be sure your talents are recognized within your larger organization."
    Small Business Trends
    "Written by an introvert for introverts."
    Ft. Myers Florida Weekly
    "'Self-Promotion for Introverts' is a primer on doing just that—helping 'quiet sorts' assert themselves by using their inherent tendencies in the most effective ways."
    Women and Leadership Australia
    "Pitched perfectly. Our rating: 10/10."

How Do You Talk About Yourself?

In his article, “Introvert’s Guide to Self-Disclosure,” on CBS MoneyWatch.com, Robert Pagliarini, says, “Exclusively focusing on the other person is a great way to break the ice and to learn about others.” He continues, “But if you don’t ever talk about yourself, your interests, and passions, you’re not going to create a meaningful relationship.” Pagliarini offers tips to help get you there.

This brings to mind an important question: How is your elevator pitch, or the quick, authentic, and confident reply to, “So tell me about yourself”? The elevator pitch is rarely delivered in an elevator and doesn’t have to entail selling. Even though it is a time-worn topic in career and networking articles and books (mine included!), every time I attend a social event, I still hear different variations on, “I’m an accountant.” Monotone. Eyes averted. Throat clearing sound. Fidget. Jazz it up, number crunchers! Other folks too. Have a heart for your audience. Or carry smelling salts.

At my most recent Self-Promotion for Introverts® class at New York University, the consensus among the participants, who included HR managers, a lingerie designer, a film and TV editor, and a music industry blogger, was they wanted to spend plenty of time developing and practicing their elevator pitches. It’s one thing to write a strong synopsis of what you do and another thing to say it again and again, adjusting it for different conversation partners, and asking for feedback. So each student waded through a sea of pitches, listening, delivering, offering gentle suggestions, and pitching some more in a fun and iterative exercise. Here was one of my favorites, by Colin Whyte of the Redcard Writing Group:

“I trade words for money. After 18 years writing for magazines, now I help businesses get their messages across through clever tag lines, product names and service descriptions. Why spend a fortune on a flashy Web site and then pair that with flat copy penned by some employee who hates writing? My services cost a tenth what an agency would charge and I always help clients present their message in the stickiest, most memorable way possible.”

I don’t expect that Whyte would say all that from the moment you were introduced to him. However, if you’re an introvert, or someone who prefers to think before sharing your thoughts, it serves you well to have some introductory language about yourself up your sleeve when it’s your turn to say who you are. Even if you’re an extrovert*, having an elevator pitch keeps you on point and helps keep your message focused. After all, most people don’t have the attention span to listen to you formulate it out loud.

Ready to craft—or refine—your elevator pitch? Do this exercise which I’ve adapted from my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead. Start by identifying one specific target audience. Your pitch can be a sentence or several sentences. The idea is to create a starting point or some default language you can use to describe yourself in situations where you can make meaningful connections. Of course, you’ll adjust your pitch depending on whom you’re talking to, the timing, and the appropriateness of the occasion.

If you need help getting started with your elevator pitch, answer these questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. What’s special or different about your approach?
  3. What problems do you solve, and for whom?
  4. What else would your stakeholders like to know about you? If you don’t know, do some research.

Weave your answers together, take the best bits, and then write one punchy, cohesive pitch. It may also help to ask some of your fans (former bosses, clients, colleagues) for their input.

For more advice, check out “Prepping for Warren Buffett: The Art of the Elevator Pitch” on the blog of Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Work Week. Also see my story, “Branding Yourself: Your Billboard,” to help you think creatively about your personal branding. As Pagliarini says in his article, “If you find you are always the one asking the questions, start sharing those things for which you are most proud and passionate.”

Here’s how I introduce myself when I’m having fun: “As the author of Self-Promotion for Introverts®, I help make invisible people visible—without smoke and mirrors or sawing anyone in half.” How about you?

Excerpt adapted from Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead, McGraw-Hill, 2009, p. 135.

*Also spelled “extraverts” by Carl Jung and the communities of the MBTI® and other personality assessments such as the Five Factor Model.

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Ancowitz


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