By now we all know that first impressions count. People make up their mind fast — the common advice you hear is the 7-second rule: You have seven seconds to make your first (and somewhat lasting) impression. Newer research indicates that you might have even less time. A lot less. 1/10th of a second is all it takes for someone to create a mental model of you.

As an entrepreneur you are always pitching, selling or telling your story. And as first impressions truly count — how do use those first few seconds for maximum effect?

Sadly I see way too many entrepreneurs start their story with them: “Hi. I am Pascal Finette, Vice President of Singularity University. Before I was at eBay, Mozilla and Google; founded a few startups; built and ran a venture fund and did a whole bunch of other fun things.”

I lost you.

Some entrepreneurs launch into the problem statement: “Did you know that one in ten Americans has a problem with bed bugs? Bed bugs are a vicious, sticky, nasty problem — causing all kinds of health issues and costing home owners millions of dollars. The common bed bug is found in…”

Unless I am obsessed with bed bugs — I am lost.

Pitching, selling or just telling your story is not a Shakespearean drama — you don’t get extra points for a slow, dramatic reveal. Get to the point, make people understand what you’re doing and then, and only then, do you have the stage to truly rope me in with your carefully crafted narrative.

I suggest you start with a very simple formula:

Tell me what you do in one sentence. Then tell me in your next sentence why you are doing what you’re doing.

P.S. Talking about storytelling — on June 16th I will present my “Field Guide to Exponential Thinking” at HanaHaus in downtown Palo Alto, CA (USA) from 5pm to 7pm. Join us if you’re in the area and get your free ticket!

Build What Matters.
Pascal ツ