I Repair Inner Children: The Art of the Intro

by Mike Sententia on August 23, 2010

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In this post:

  • Why you need to know your handshake introduction
  • 1 template, 2 examples and 3 tips for making them

Intro

You know the guy you avoid at parties because he shakes your hand and immediately bores you with 5 minutes on what he does?

This post is about how to avoid being that guy.

The key is a handshake introduction: A short 1-sentence intro you say while shaking hands to get the other person to say “Really?  How does that work?”

It’s harder than it sounds.  A VC blog I read posted about Sam Jones, who introduces himself with “I buy dead magazines“.  You can bet he didn’t wing that intro.

Here’s what I learned from preparing handshake intros for consciousness integration and for controlling magick consciously.

Avoid Summaries

My first attempt was “I connect the conscious and unconscious minds so people can update thought patterns from childhood to the adult world.”

I asked friends for input.  They told me (very nicely) that it was terrible.

Lisa: Use an emotionally charged image.  “I beat up your inner child.”

Me: I love your eagerness to beat people up.  How about “I push your inner child into the adult world?”

Kristen: You need to put the benefit up front.  “I help your mind work for you instead of against you.”  Also, “inner child” is the good, playful part of you.  It’s not a problem.  People don’t want it beaten up or pushed.

(You might recognize Lisa and Kristen.  They comment on this blog sometimes).

I came up with “I introduce your inner child to your adult mind so they can stop fighting and start working together” and “I let you be your best self by helping your conscious mind talk with the unconscious urges that most people suppress.”

Better.  But still not good.  Because they all summarize my entire message.

Summaries are too long for a handshake, and they’re intellectual rather than emotionally interesting.  Avoid them.

Gripping, and Not Untrue

I took Kristen’s approach: State the benefit, let them ask how.  “I fix the unconscious urges that most people suppress.”  No how to clog up the works.  Much better.

But it still isn’t gripping.  You need an emotionally charged, surprising image* to grab your audience.  Like Lisa’s “I beat up your inner child.”  But one that won’t scare customers away.

*For more on making ideas memorable, see Made to Stick.

Here’s where you have to let a good idea die so a great idea can live.  Abandon accuracy.  Aim for “I buy dead magazines,” not “I turn unprofitable magazines with a specialized market and passionate readers into web magazines.”

Make your goal “Gripping, and not untrue” rather than “Describes what I do.”  That gives you the freedom to make a striking short intro.

A Recipe For a Good Handshake Intro

I went back to the starting point.  “I buy dead magazines.”  It’s a verb* followed by a metaphor it wouldn’t normally go with.

*Specifically, a working verb.  Avoid trivial verbs like “do” or “went.”

Fundamentally, I fix the unconscious urges that people suppress.  That’s my verb.

Now, since I’m doing something positive, inner child works well for the metaphor.

I fix inner children.

Except that fix suggests it’s broken.  Also, in animals, fix means cutting off the testicles.  So, “repair” as a softer synonym that doesn’t suggest snipping:

I repair your inner child.

Short = Good

For my second handshake intro, I had a plan: Identify what’s surprising or unusual about what I do, then simplify it into the “I buy dead magazines” formula.

Surprising and unusual for my style of magick in general: Most mages rely on forces and spirits to drive magick for them.  I control magick consciously, and drive it myself, like those spirits and forces that others channel.

First, find the verb.  Here, it’s “do magick.”  That’s what we’re talking about.

“I do magick like the spirits that people channel.”

I was happy, but it’s hard to critique your own writing.  Always ask a friend.  Lisa said “Not bad, but it doesn’t pop.”  She’s right.

The problem is “… that people channel.”  It isn’t doing any work.  I don’t want to talk about people channeling spirits, I want to talk about doing magick myself.  Sure, it makes the statement more accurate, but who cares?  Accuracy can come after your audience is interested.

So I wound up with “I do magick like a spirit.”  If it speaks to you, feel free to use it.

Adjust to Your Audience

A parting thought.  I saw a flyer at a diner advertising “Learn to Channel.”  Terrible headline.

That flyer is good in occult shops.  Everyone knows what channeling is.  Some people want to learn it.  Boom, there’s your market.

But in a diner, most of your audience will think “What’s channeling?”  Only they won’t.  They’ll just move on to the next flyer.

“Learn to Talk to Angels” is better for the diner.  It’s something a layman gets.  Is it less accurate?  Sure.  But the point of a headline isn’t to explain everything.  It’s to get your audience to ask for more info (verbally or by reading).

Once you make your handshake intro, adjust it to your audience.  Every word and phrase needs to speak to them.  Avoid words like magick that have strong connotations.  Make sure they listen to your concepts, instead of getting hung up on your words.

Comments

Got thoughts on my handshake intros?  Trying to make one of your own?  Or just saw some flyers with awful headlines?  Leave a comment.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

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