There’s no need to be sorry, when you’re starting an important conversation.
Katherine Hepburn famously said, “Never complain, never explain”. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, or apologizing as an opening to your story. You can make your message matter, and there’s no apology needed (an excerpt from The NEW Elevator Pitch).
Have you heard (or used) a variation of this one:
“I’m sorry about the copier/slide projector/ haircut/humidity/traffic in Connecticut/news release/weather/will of God/things beyond my control/outside world.”
Please stop any apology that is unnecessary.
Many times I’ve heard presenters use the apologetic opener, and it makes me want to rush the podium with a roll of duct tape. However, when you give as many presentations as I have, you make your own share of mistakes. I’ve opened with an unnecessary apology too, but the “I’m sorry” opening is something I had to cut out of my vocabulary.
I’m Sorry to Have to Tell You This, But…
Think about it: Do you want people to feel sorry for you? You may feel like you are being accommodating or polite, but more likely you are coming off as unfocused. Best to leave apologies aside as best you can.
“Sorry” starters are purely a distraction, and your listener interprets it as:
- A stalling tactic.
- A propped-up delay for a disconnected speaker
- Permission not to pay attention, cause you haven’t gotten anywhere near what really matters
- Asking for pity, a feeble attempt to connect with an audience on the weakest possible level
Yikes! That’s the exact opposite of what you want in the NEW Elevator Pitch. You want to captivate your listener, not confound them! There’s too much noise already, people are already posting pictures of their breakfast on Facebook, or complaining about their kids. The NEW Elevator Pitch is the place where you have to get to the important stuff – No Apologies Necessary.
Don’t Use Sorry as Your Opener
Sometimes you have to explain certain things about your environment, when a mic doesn’t work or the room is hot because the air conditioning is broken. Don’t barrel into your pitch until you’ve set aside whatever environmental concerns, issues or apologies you really need to offer. But, ESPECIALLY if you are in front of a group: don’t say something just to appear service-minded! Your story is your best service.