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What’s Your Lead?

September 2, 2009



For years, I have shared this thought with students who are about to venture into our crazy world of marketing and PR, but it’s a thought that should apply to all of us in any situation – tell us your “lead” upfront and make people want to know more.

In news, it’s the first few seconds of the broadcast segment or first few lines of a printed article that sums up what the story is about. The lead gives you just enough information to make you want to read on, to listen more, to engage. While it’s standard media practice, it doesn’t seem to be so standard for the rest of us.

Communicate your lead within the first 30 to 60 seconds of a conversation. While I’m preaching this, I admit that this can be hard for me, too. For those who know me and are reading this, I know you’re laughing out loud, but I digress…  

For the recent grad, succinctly sum up why you are looking for X job and why you are qualified.

For a sales call, briefly state upfront why you’re calling and why you think you’re the person or the team to help their business. Answer the “so what” before they have time to think it.

In that next difficult conversation, start with your lead. Give people an idea of why the conversation is important, what your goal of the discussion is and why they need to listen.

Don’t assume people will listen for five minutes to figure out what you’re trying to say. Don’t assume people will read on only to see your lead in the third paragraph. In most cases, if that’s your approach, your pitch, résumé, story or brochure has already landed in the trash.

Without a clear lead, TV channels will be changed; voicemails will be deleted; eyes will glaze over.

Think about this the next time you’re working on an assignment or standing in the elevator with the executive you never get to see, but have all of five seconds to make an impression.

Think of your lead, and be ready with it.

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