It’s the first thirty words that matter. Thirty words that create punchy, pithy sentences – a fine balance between fact, sentiment and relevance. Get this right and you’ll capture the imagination of your audience, inspiring them to read on. Get it wrong and you’re cast into the box called irrelevance, or worse, yawned at.
The Americans call it an elevator speech. Which presumably means the British call it a lift speech. And as a double entendre, that’s probably more valid. Because it is your opening statement that sets the agenda and its evident in more places than you might otherwise think. For example:
“Hello. My name Anna is and me and the boyfriend will to Austalia be coming soon. I like children and love play to with them. I care for them and be good big sister. I bake. And want my English to get better and willing am I to learn”.
“My name is Svet but my frinds call me Black. I am from a small town in north part of Norway. Its cold. I love lots of things and Bjork is my favourite singer. She’s cool. Maybe cold too. I like children too. And I bake”.
“Hi. My name is Natalie. I finished school last year and have since been working with disabled kids (2-3 years) in a kindergarten. I’m a big sports fan and coach a junior (6-10 years) tennis team at the weekend. I love the arts too and recently had the lead role in a local theatre play. I’d love the chance to become a part of your family. And I can bake too”!
So if you were in the market for an au pair, which one would tickle your fancy? Unless you run a language school, or happen to have a side business in the finer points of the occult, it’s not really a difficult decision is it.
For the past 4 weeks, I’ve been reading stuff like this every single day. Certainly not for the joy of it but to try to find someone, anyone, who sounds as if they could help keep the children out of mischief/ trouble/ hospital. Someone to help us in a country in which our only family is two young boys at that stage in life where destruction is the word of the day. Every day. Add to that the fact that we’ve previously had home-help and day care and nannies by the dozen, a revolving door of short-term love-a-thons – well, the time has finally come to raise our hands in defeat and say, “Help! Please. Somebody. Help!”
And so we entered the weird, parallel universe that is aupairworld.com. A place where the young and the not so young share their inner most hopes and dreams of packing up their bags and heading off to another country for 6 months to help a desperate family in need. A bit like a one-man UN peacekeeping force, minus the experience. Unless of course you count the baking.
This is the bit that intrigued me most about these online wannabe SuperNannies. Someone, somewhere has told them that they need to be able to bake. Not cook. Bake. Quite how they think arriving in Sydney with a battered copy of Mrs Beeton’s “Ladies in the Kitchen” is going to win them the favour of a 3 and 1 year old is beyond me. And it wasn’t just one or two of them. Even the gothic, Bjork loving, tongue stud wearing child-scarer from somewhere close to the Polar ice cap said she could bake. Bake what? Penguin Sponge Cake?
And then were those who confused a family-in-need with the find-a-mate pages of FaceBook. Girls who honestly thought a picture of them sporting a g-string and a pout was going to get them a 6-month family gig in Sydney. It’s what you might call audience mis-definition. A group of young ladies whose absolute failure to spend more than one second thinking about what an au pair-hunting family might be looking for, got them about one second of air time on the search-o-meter. If they had any brain cells between their attractive little ears, they could have given themselves half a chance by covering their most precious assets with a freshly baked fruit loaf at the very least.
At the beginning of the au pair hunt, we’d paw through every profile that came our way, reading and cross-referencing each and every word. But by day three, and 90 profiles later, boredom had set in and anyone who did not impress within 10 seconds was out. The problem with that is there’s probably a hidden gem out there, cast aside by us because her 3 years kindergarten, nursing and childcare experience was lost in a sea of irrelevant drivel about her father’s farmyard on the outskirts of Vienna.
At a time when a 3 second delay on a search engine is enough to get people in a huff and move on to another more responsive site, getting to your point has never been more important. Patience is a virtue that’s in danger of extinction. Even archaeologists are trading in their fox-hair brushes for the latest infrared scanning equipment. So here’s a simple tip, regardless of who’re trying to influence. And it’s really very simple. Think about who you’re trying to influence. Ask yourself what they want to hear. Say what they want to hear, in summary. Elaborate on each point. And summarise again.
Oh. And if there’s any aspiring au pairs out there looking for a job, I’m sorry say we’ve found ours. And she’s perfect. Strangely enough, it took us all of ten seconds to know that she was the one.