You’re in a Zoom meeting or interview and feelin’ good: you organized your messages into buckets so you wouldn’t have to worry about memorizing your lines or coming across overly-rehearsed, and you just delivered a killer answer to the age-old “tell me about yourself” with a professional introduction that was both to-the-point and authentic.
You smile to yourself. I’ve got this.
The person you’re chatting with poses her next question: “What would you say are some of your biggest strengths and weaknesses?”
Score! Since this is one of the most common questions you’ll face when pitching yourself, you’ve prepped for some version of it by coming up with specific examples. You take a deep breath as your eyes light up, ready to launch into your answer…
“Well, I’ve been working at my current position for over eight years. In that time, I’ve learned how to balance day-to-day operations with bigger picture goals and quarterly aims…”
*Record scratch* Hold up.
What question are you answering?
While you’ve started to communicate some important points… are you responding directly to the question about strengths and weaknesses?
While of course you want to fill in as much context as you can to help the person you’re talking to understand the value you bring, one of the most important skills you can demonstrate in any setting is that you’re really listening…
So how do you show that you’re present and engaged in the conversation, and not stuck in your head rummaging for pre-rehearsed language or rambling on instead of responding directly to the question with a clear, focused answer?
Whether you’re in a job interview or pitching a strategy to a new client, you’ve got to give them your BLUF.
How to use BLUF to organize your message so it’s clear, engaging, and to-the-point:
The bottom line? 😉
👉 When I say BLUF, I mean Bottom Line Up Front. Cut to the chase, THEN contextualize.
As human beings, we want to feel connected to the people we’re talking to. We want them to know where we’re coming from, so we often think we need to give them context before we make our point.
If you confuse them, ya LOSE THEM.
While giving a lot of context upfront might make sense to you because you know where you’re going with it… too much context can confuse people because they don’t know what point you’re getting at yet.
So here’s how ya give your bottom line up front:
- Listen to the language of the question.
- Use that language to articulate your BLUF—a direct response to the question being asked.
- Bring your BLUF to life by providing concrete examples and stories of you in action.. (Stay tuned for next week’s blog post, where we’ll tackle how to paint a vivid picture with concrete examples and anecdotes!)
Why giving your bottom line upfront works…it:
✔️ Shows your audience that you’re listening to what they’re saying, and that you’re fully engaged in the conversation—not stuck in your head.
✔️ Helps your audience process what you’re saying by directing their attention to the most important part of your message immediately.
✔️ Gives you a buffer and a jumping off point when answering tricky questions… because you don’t need to come up with your own.
✔️ Helps you stay on topic and skip the rambling, making your answer even more clear, engaging, and to-the-point.
You might feel like you need to explain your way into your bottom line… you don’t. By sharing your key point upfront and THEN filling in the details, you ensure that you’re answering the right question to begin with… and answering it in the most succinct and direct way possible.
Want more help getting out of your head & communicating your message with clarity and authenticity?
If today’s blog post has helped you, I’ve got loads more tips and techniques for articulating yourself clearly and confidently, no matter the situation…
I’m teaching a FREE Live Masterclass on Tuesday February 16th at 1 pm EST!
✨ It’s called How To Articulate Yourself Clearly and Confidently When it Matters Most: 5 Game-Changing Strategies for Turning Pressure into Presence—Anytime, Anywhere ✨
We’re gonna cover how to:
👉 Dial down nerves with science-backed tactics to help you feel more centered and in control
👉 Avoid distracting mannerisms that undercut your credibility
👉 Signal the qualities you want others to see in you – without faking or forcing it
👉 Organize your talking points in advance or on the fly – in half the time, but with double the impact
👉 Engage whoever you’re speaking to in a way that’s easy to follow and hard to forget
>>> CLICK HERE to save your spot! I can’t wait to see you there.
… plus, it’s the perfect appetizer to our Presence Under Pressure group coaching program (opening back up for enrollment on February 16th). So if you have any questions about the 8-week intensive, come join us!
In your corner always,
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