You’ve experienced it. You’re at a networking event and each person has a minute or so to do an introduction. You watch as one by one, each person stands up, says what they do and for whom, and shares contact information. Yawn.

Making an impression while communicating all your important information in one minute is a challenge. What’s a person to do?

Now, I’m no neuroscientist, but I do know this. When something happens that is out of our current experience, we automatically pay attention. Why? Because our brain scans the environment for signs of threat and reward. We have to look.

That means if you want to get someone’s attention, or in this case, your audience’s attention, say or do something that stands out. In other words, surprise them.

Okay, okay! But how? This is the fun part. You get to experiment, just like I’ve been doing at Eliances. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Use your talent. Do you sing? Juggle? Do magic? What can you do that will differentiate you and create a delightful surprise? Use it to introduce yourself by beginning and ending your introduction with it. Make sure it enhances your brand and what you can provide for your audience.

2. Share a quick story or metaphor that gives your audience a glimpse into who you are and what you provide. If it’s funny, all the better!

3. Ask a provocative question that directly connects to the people in the room. Make it interesting by avoiding a yes or no question, and don’t make the answer too obvious. This way, you stir the imagination and they stay tuned in to hear the answer.

4. Use your nonverbals. Bring out your inner actor and paint a picture using your body, your tone of voice and facial expressions. Make it entertaining!

5. Use a prop – something that exemplifies what you offer or the point you are making. The more unusual the prop, the better. Keep the prop hidden until you’re ready to use it. This adds to the surprise!

Here’s the secret sauce. Make sure your surprise is perceived as a reward. Threats certainly work to get our attention, but that’s not really what we want to do when we’re encouraging people to consider our cause, be it our message or our services — at least not to start out.

By threat, I mean the “threat” to your audience if they don’t take action. This scarcity technique is best used in a specific situation when you want to create a timeframe within which someone must take action or miss an opportunity. When introducing yourself, it’s best to associate yourself with reward so that’s how I perceive you.

How do you make an impression in one minute? Through the element of surprise. I would love to support you. I can be reached at