“With one look, I can break your heart.”
“With one smile, I’m the girl next door.”
“Watch me when I frown, you can’t write that down.”
“With one look, I put words to shame.”
I particularly like these lyrics from the hit Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard. I like them because I earn a living with words, and the song — delivering the thoughts of a silent movie queen — challenges my very existence. In her mind, words don’t come close to being as effective as her ability to sway her audience with one “look.”
Which gets me to the 30-second rule, or nearly there. It took you just under 30 seconds to get my point to this point, which is:
In reality there may be two points of view: words either do or don’t matter. But they certainly matter to me. And, it’s my life’s work to get yours to matter to the audience you need to influence.
In the 1970s, Milo Frank put forward the concept of the 30-second rule. If you can’t say something in 30-seconds or less, your reader or audience can’t get it. Not that you have to deliver the whole Gettysburg Address in 30 seconds, or describe why you are the single most qualified candidate for a job in 30 seconds. It’s just that the human brain probably can’t hold more information in its RAM than you can cram into 30 seconds of speech or text. So, you must string together points of information and generate emotional response, in 30-second increments.
Go ahead and try to use only 30-seconds you make a point. Pick the subject: “What’s the coolest thing about me and why.” Stopwatch application in hand: Go!
How did you do? Not easy, is it? That’s why successful personal brands demand intentional wordsmithing, just like big brands do. On TV, brands make a whole movie in a 30-second commercial. You laugh, you cry, you buy!
Remember, as a personal brand you can (and often need to) build a longer case. But do it in 30-second bits so your audience’s brain can take a brain breath or re-boot. Your audience’s brains are actually working on your behalf: associating what you’ve just said with something else that’s in storage. Keeping talking and you risk your audience freezing up, or checking their smart phones. They mean no insult. They just need a break, every 30 seconds or so.
Goldfish have a 7-second memory, and there’s some evidence to say our species is moving in that direction. Actually, if you understand the theory of evolution, we likely started in the ocean, so ending up in bowl of water isn’t so far fetched.
When I was a marketing executive at Coke, working with franchisors and Zs, they stressed us pretty hard to speak in 7 words or less. That way, ANYONE could receive, retain and repeat your message: the CEO of Coke and the guy delivering cases of it. One relentless, unified message-making machine is the underpinning of the world’s most recognized brand.
You might take a lesson from Coke when you first introduce yourself or a new concept. Deliver a great 7 seconds. Here’s my company’s description in just about 7 seconds.
“Everyone has an expert hiding inside of them. Pegasus Media World finds the expert in you and brings out the media darling you’re meant to be.”
If your audience “bites and chews” your first tidbit, you should see a “look” that says, “Tell me more.” Those are the 3 sweetest words in business communication. Save the “I love you” for personal business, although I must admit that both 3-word expressions reflect how I feel in business (you know who you are).
In 30 seconds or less, the 10th commandment of personal branding is:
Crisp up your personal brand’s communication so everyone in your audience receives, retains and repeats:
How wonderful you are
What wonderful things you’ve done
When your next wonderful opportunity to invest, buy or hire is
Why you are the most wonderful person for the job, project or partnership