Passing “The Eyebrow Test”: How to win your next pitch by perfecting your patter

Like this on Facebook

Does your elevator pitch pass the “Eyebrow Test”?

Coined by Sam Horn, founder of The Intrigue Agency, the phrase “Eyebrow Test” refers to an instantaneous feedback mechanism that can make or break the future of any entrepreneur pitching to an investor. It can just as easily derail an emerging leader selling a big business idea to her leader(s).

Sam Horn, who has trained some of the world’s top entrepreneurs and executives to communicate clearly, compellingly and convincingly, says that when you introduce yourself or your idea to someone for the first time, “If their eyebrows don’t move at all; it means they’re unmoved.”

If, however, their eyebrows go up, Horn explains, your pitch has succeeded. “They’re engaged, curious,” she explains. “They want to know more.”

Think about the last time you introduced yourself or your business to someone new. Be honest: did your introductory patter bore them? Confuse them? Or did they lean in a little closer, interested and engaged, ready to learn more? In other words, did you pass – or fail – the “Eyebrow Test”?

Jeanne M. Sullivan is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Sullivan Adventures, an advisor, connector, speaker and angel investor. As co-founder and an investor in the venture capital business for more than 25 years, Sullivan has been part of venture teams investing in 100 companies and has judged many business plan competitions. As a result, she’s seen literally thousands of pitches by entrepreneurs.

“Why, then,” remarks Sullivan, “do I continue to be surprised when a talented and dynamic individual with an outstanding pedigree blows it when they describe their business?”

Four Points for Perfecting Your Patter

Sullivan refers to a quick, well articulated overview of one’s background, business or product as “The Patter”. But when it comes to presenting their Patter, what do many people show up with? “Lots of talk, talk, talk,” she says.

Here are Sullivan’s tips on how to perfect your patter, for the next time you need to pitch yourself, your business or your idea.

1.) What’s the point?

According to Sullivan, getting your patter down starts with turning complex business platforms or models into simple, easy to understand and compelling stories.

The first step, advises Sullivan, is to write your story. “Describe the business, the vision, and goals. Define your ‘unfair competitive advantage. You will face competition, so how are YOU going to win?”

And whatever you do, “Don’t’ start with a demo of your product” says Sullivan. “Most investors want to hear the ‘Business of the Business’ first.”

2.) Net out your background

Have you had a varied business career? If so, Sullivan advises you to “net it out”. In other words, you must connect the dots for the listener so that they understand you are a subject matter expert.

Have you experienced business failures? “Turn them into learning experiences and talk about lessons learned,” Sullivan suggests.

3.) Make it repeatable

In order to make the most impact with your Patter, Sullivan advises you to speak in bullet points that are not only easy to remember, but easy to repeat. She adds, “Use humor and be brief. Don’t you know? Most people have the attention span of a flea!”

In fact, Sam Horn will tell you that a Goldfish has a longer attention span than a human!

“Talk it through with people you trust who can give you feedback, and refine your patter over time. Make it as succinct (and compelling) as possible.”

The greatest danger, according to Sullivan, is that you won’t get the second meeting, be it a job interview or an investor pitch. But if you present an intriguing and memorable story, your listener will soon be telling that story to his or her boss or partner. They will win the second meeting for you, all because you made your story repeatable.

4.) Know your numbers.

Finally, if you are heading into an investor pitch or trying to sell your big idea to your senior leaders, Sullivan implores you to understand the numbers. “It is critical,” she says, “to be able to answer the following:

• What are the capital needs over time?
• How will the business scale?
• What is the pricing model?
• What are the revenue streams?
• What are the margins over time?
• What are the drivers to the business to get to break even?”

Don’t be intimidated, Sullivan says, adding, “You can learn this stuff! Get someone at your side to teach you the financial skills required.”

The Takeaway

Sullivan has one final word of advice for budding entrepreneurs and emerging leaders: “Your patter is figured out. You know the numbers. You are ready to pass the Eyebrow Test. Now, go get the meeting!”

Read more about the “Eyebrow Test” in Sam Horn’s new book “Got Your Attention?” and at Sam’s website www.samhorn.com

Connect with Jeanne M. Sullivan on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jo Miller

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Influencing Upward: How to "Lead Your Leaders"

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you just can’t get through to your boss? Maybe you had what you thought ...

What's Holding Your Team Back From Building Influence?

I was on the phone recently with Holly Hamann, Co-Founder and CMO of TapInfluence, talking about how they have been building a thought leadership culture ...

Leaderly Quote: Change starts with unlearning

You don’t need a big team to make a big impact if you know how to lead change. Srishti Gupta, President and General Manager, Media ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Are you curious what other emerging leaders have been reading at Be Leaderly.com? Here they

3 Acts of Career Courage
3 Acts of Career Courage

What was your first big, bold, act of courage? For Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open

Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader
Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader

Being nice is good for business – until it’s not. You may think that being

Leaderly Quote: Getting to yes
Leaderly Quote: Getting to yes

A large part of a leader’s job is getting people to say “yes.” In a

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Rebekah Kofo-Kasumu
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Rebekah Kofo-Kasumu

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Feeling Overwhelmed by Work? Go Back to Basics
Feeling Overwhelmed by Work? Go Back to Basics

According to recent conversations I’ve had with both emerging and senior leaders, 2017 has (already!) been

Leaderly Quote: Dreams don’t work unless you do
Leaderly Quote: Dreams don’t work unless you do

I asked Angie Klein, Be Leaderly’s operations and marketing manager, what her all-time favorite leadership

Be Bold For Change: 10 Ways To Champion Women’s Advancement
Be Bold For Change: 10 Ways To Champion Women’s Advancement

International Women’s Day is kindof a big deal for us. At Be Leaderly, we try

12 Leadership Quotes by Emerging Women Leaders for International Women’s Day
12 Leadership Quotes by Emerging Women Leaders for International Women’s Day

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate

Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for opportunities…
Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for opportunities…

“Opportunities are yours to create, not gifts from a boss or your company,” says Liz

Dealing With Difficult People: The One Thing You Need to Know
Dealing With Difficult People: The One Thing You Need to Know

No matter how long you’ve been in post, the challenges of a tough team member

Leaderly Quote: My one criteria for taking on a mentee…
Leaderly Quote: My one criteria for taking on a mentee…

When it comes to being a mentor, Nehal Mehta sets boundaries in this role by

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are the top articles that other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this

You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Share Your Expertise
You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Share Your Expertise

Feeling that you’re not “senior enough” to give a presentation at an event? Well, chances

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly