Public Speaking – Why less is more WHEN NETWORKING

This is an AI generated transcript so please forgive any errors and spelling mistakes. 

Do you go business networking? If you have to stand up and give a 60-second pitch that is a form of public speaking. That’s why today I want to talk about what you include in your 60 second pitch. Because sometimes less can be more. I want you to remember this little phrase: if you want to impress, say less.

Hi, I’m Shola Kaye. I’m a public speaking coach and I work with individuals and organizations delivering master classes and keynote speaking. And of course, I help business owners to get better at growing their businesses using public speaking.

One aspect of public speaking is of course going and making a pitch. It could be a 60 second business pitch at networking event and it could even be a pitch for new business. Perhaps you’re an agency pitching for a new piece of business with a new client. The kind of pitching I’m talking about today is the 60 second variety that you find at a lot of business networking groups like BNI (business networking international), here in the UK we’ve got Athena, Women in Business and Women in Business Club.

There’s a bunch of these different networking organizations and many of them are based around this premise that you go along, you might have a lunch or a breakfast or something like that, and then there’s a period where everybody in the room gets a chance to stand up or sit down and share their business in 60 seconds or there abouts before it goes on to the next person. The idea is that everybody in the room gets to hear who you are, what you do, what kind of clients you’re looking for. After that, at the end, there’s the opportunity for people to take the conversation further.

Public Speaking – make your pitch short and clear

In my program Get Clients with Speaking, which is for business owners who want to grow their businesses, I recently had a question from one of my clients (my students) who was saying that she was getting herself into knots over creating the perfect 60 second pitch. The reason being is because she had done quite a few different things, different roles, different jobs, different activities in her life. She was struggling to get everything into these 60 seconds. Now, you can imagine as we get older – and you know these days people take on more roles, right? – it’s not necessarily a job for life anymore… “I was at a factory for the last 50 years”… It’s not like that anymore. People might be in one role for a couple of years then they sidestep to something else and so a lot of us have gathered up a lot of different positions.

The idea of squishing all of that into a 60 second pitch… wow, of course it’s going to be hard! And it’s funny, I gave a talk today to a group of business networkers and I sort of compared squeezing everything, all your different roles, in a 60 second pitch with going on holiday wanting to take your entire wardrobe with you. Trying to squeeze everything into one suitcase… it’s not going to happen, is it? Or even if you do somehow get it all in there when you get to the airport you’re going to be stung for excess baggage because it’s going to be too heavy.

If you take that analogy and bring it back to the 60 second pitch, what I shared with this group is to impress sometimes you got to say less. What I shared with this client is that you don’t have to say every single thing that you do in your 60 seconds or everything you’ve done. Because that will be one heck of a jumbled up 60 seconds. It will probably confuse people because they probably won’t have a handle on what you do now, what you used to do or the many things that you do currently do, which one’s the most important, which one is a sides hustle, right? They struggle to understand all of that in 60 seconds.

Public Speaking – your pitch should hook them in, save the details for later

The idea is you give them something juicy to get them interested in you as a person and then also give them the sort of main highlight or the main focus that you want to talk about in that particular session. Give them that also. So if, for example, they’re looking for an accountant and you share that you used to be a punk rocker or that you used to be… you know, I don’t know, belly dancer or something… some people will think “oh, she was a belly dancer I’d love to talk to her about that” and others will think “oh, I need an accountant”.

You’ve got people there on two levels: one the personal by being intriguing and secondly sort of professional level and that’s enough. Then those that want to speak to you more will seek you out and have that chat with you maybe the fact you’re a belly dancer perhaps they want to learn or perhaps they just think “oh, that sounds really interesting love to hear more about this person” but don’t pack it in. Typically, if you pack everything in it’s confusing.

Public Speaking – use your pitch to share only what is relevant in the context

Let me give you another story from my past. I studied the sciences so there was a period in my life where I was teaching. I was a professional chemistry tutor so I was teaching in particular people who were sort of early in their states at university or people who were doing A level. I was teaching them chemistry and at the same time I was a professional singer. So there’s two things that most people won’t put together, right? It’s confusing. One day I slipped up because I had a singing job to do later that evening, I was supposed to go to a gig and sing at somebody’s birthday and at the same time had some ongoing chemistry clients.

This is, I don’t know, more than ten years ago now. Somebody called and left a message and said “oh, we’re just giving you a call and can you call us back? They didn’t say what it was about or anything so I assumed that they had called me about chemistry. I called her, left for them saying “thanks for calling about the chemistry, I’m busy this evening but I’ll give you a call early next week”.

Later that day I turn up at this event I’m supposed to be performing at. Typically, whenever I turn up people are super friendly saying “coming in, grab some food, here you get changed” etc. These people were quite offhand with me. They really did treat me in a very sort of brusque and offhand way and I thought “wow, what’s going on here? These people are a bit rude, this isn’t what I typically expect”. I went through the evening and did the performance and people were dancing and enjoying themselves and loving it. At the end the people who hired me came up to me and they said “gosh, thank you so much, that was great, we were so afraid”. I asked “why were you scared?”. They said “well, we phoned you earlier today and when you phoned us back and you said I’ll talk to you next week about the chemistry, we felt oh my gosh we’ve hired somebody who is a chemistry tutor moonlighting as a singer! There’s no way she can be a decent singer if she does chemistry by day. We were dreading that our party would be a complete bomb and be really awful because we had this singer who was not going to be professional, not going to know what she was doing and just do a poor job in general”.

From these people knowing that I did both chemistry and singing that was their assumption. The assumption was that I couldn’t be good at both. So many of us now we are good at many things. I’m sure a lot of you listening a great wide variety of different skills and different roles but sometimes to share all of that is too much information. You should just share what’s needed to be said at that time and then later on when they get to know you, when you have time for a longer more considered discussion, that’s where you can share “I used to do so and so”. Then in that discussion it can be talked about and it can be delivered in context rather than “it’s the singing chemistry teacher” that we don’t really obviously struck fear into their hearts.

The reason I tell you that story just to share some of the assumptions that people have. If you say that you are multi-talented are multifaceted not everybody will think that way. Some people certainly do, they may assume jack of all trades, master of none as opposed to somebody who has dedicated their life to both areas and is super competent at both.

Public Speaking – sound like an expert: to impress, say less

Let’s bring this back to business networking now, because that’s where we started out. The idea is you share with your audience what they need to hear in that time. I can’t remember where I heard this story but I heard the story of somebody who was a hairdresser. This hairdresser would go out networking and meet people. When this hairdresser was in front of a bunch of say corporate men she would say “I’m a hairdresser for corporate men”. Then when she was with a bunch of moms she would say “I’m a hairdresser for mothers, for kids”. And when she was with people who were over sixties category she would say “I’m a hairdresser for the over-60s”. So she would tailor her message to whoever she was with. As a result of that had a flourishing business not everybody needs to know every single thing that you do.

Another example, I was online on Facebook a few weeks ago and got chatting to somebody. We were talking about what we do and speaking and so on. This person said “I speak on this topic and that topic” and then they sent me a list of probably like 30 speaking topics that they have. I thought “gosh’ that’s really overwhelming” and it kind of killed the conversation for me at least because there was so much there. I know that this person was really proud of having this massive roster of topics but I frankly thought it was overwhelming. If I wanted to hire somebody I’d probably find somebody who, not that they only speak on one thing, but it was clear that they just had some specialism in a particular area rather than someone who gave me a list of 150 topics or 30 topics.

To reiterate, if you want to impress say less. Less is more. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing. Not to say that you need to hide your achievements or downplay them but there’s a time and a place for everything.

I hope that was helpful. If you’re interested in growing your business of speaking maybe your business owner watching this and you want to get up and do more speaking not just for 60 seconds but for maybe 20 minutes or an hour or a one-day-workshop then why don’t you get in touch with me and find out about my Get Clients with Speaking program. If you’re not quite ready for that and you want to join me on one of my live events online or master class just go to, you’ll see some information there on the home page.

That’s it from me for now. To impress say 🤐


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