Did you know there's an easy way to tell if you're interesting?
Just describe your job, project, issue or cause and watch people's eyebrows. If they crunch up, they're confused. If they stay flat, they're bored. If they go up, they're intrigued.
How did I discover this? Here's the backstory.
At the Maui Writers Conference, we gave authors and screenwriters an unprecedented opportunity (at the time) to jump the chain of command and have face-to-face meetings with agents, editors and publishers.
What we didn’t anticipate was people couldn't get across the value of their project so decision-makers "got" it and "wanted" it.
In fact, a woman walked out of her pitch meeting with tears in her eyes. I walked over and asked, 'Are you okay?'
She told me, “'No, I’m not okay. I just saw my dream go down the drain. I put my manuscript on the table, he took one look at it and said, ‘I don’t have time to read all that. Tell me in 60 seconds what it's about and why someone would be interested in it.’
My mind went blank. I didn't know where to start. The harder I tried to explain it, the more confused he became. My big chance, and I blew it.”
She wasn't the only one who didn't get interest in her project that first year. Many people, despite having worked on it for months (or years!), simply didn't know how to clearly and concisely describe it in a way that motivated the agent or editor to say, "Tell me more."
That night, I asked Robert Loomis, a senior editor at Random House, "What's happening?"
"Sam, most of us have seen thousands of proposals. We make up our mind in the first 60 seconds whether something's commercially viable and whether we're interested."
The next day, I stood in the back of the room and watched the pitch meetings. You know what? I could predict who was getting interest - without hearing a word being said. How? By watching the decision-makers' eyebrows.
If the decision-makers' eyebrows were crunched up; it meant they were confused. And if they didn't get it; it meant the authors weren't going to get it, because confused people don't say yes and they don't keep listening.
If the decision-makers' eyebrows didn’t move; it meant they were unmoved. (Or, they've had Botox:-)
If the decision-maker's eyebrows went UP; it meant they wanted to know more. Which meant the authors got their project in the decision-makers' mental door.
Try it right now. LIFT your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued, curious, engaged? That's how you want decision-makers to feel from now on whenever they:
Listen to you communicate your idea, project, issue or cause
Read the first paragraph of your blog, book or article
Land on the homepage of your website or marketing material
Hear the opening of your TEDx talk, presentation, pitch or You Tube video
From now on, your goal is to get people's eyebrows UP in the first 60 seconds of every communication. (and yes, this works for online and written communications as well as spoken communications.) If in the first minute, people knit or furrow their eyebrows or their eyebrows don't move; it’s back to the drawing board.
If they DO go up, good for you. It means your communication passed The Eyebrow Test and people are motivated to keep listening, watching or reading.
The good news is; if people’s eyebrows crunch up; I've crafted dozens of ways to be intriguing so they go up. You can find them in the video series/course on communication I created for LinkedIn Learning. Here's a preview.
Ask "Have you ever ....?" or "Do you wish ...?" or "Would you like to ...?" questions people relate to or say an internal yes to.
For example, here's the interesting descriptive copy for Tongue Fu!: "Have you ever had someone accuse you of something unfair or untrue, something you didn't do?
Have you ever been tongue-tied when someone teased you?
Do you wish you could think on your feet - and know what to say - when you don't know what to say?
Would you like to be able to respond in the moment to inappropriate remarks - instead of thinking of the perfect response on the way home?"
"If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you're in the right place. That's what this book covers."
Or, "If the above situations sound familiar, this program's for you."
2. Launch into a 60 second real-life story that is relevant to your group and situation.NO perfunctory remarks people have heard a hundred times before. "Thank you for inviting me .." or "I want to thank .."are predictable and predictable is boring. (If you want to thank hosts, do it later in the program after you've won everyone's attention.) What people want is for you to ;easantly surprise them by cutting to the chase and saying something meaningful.
Think you can't tell a good story in 60 seconds? Oh yes you can. Those post gives a framework for puting people in the S.C.E.N.E. so your stories come alive.
Want more ways to pass The Eyebrow Test? Check out this TEDx talk with addiitional ways to be intriguing and pick up a copy of POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? which Marshall Goldsmith calls "a must for every leader."