If you can share an idea, project or mission in one compelling sentence, you can hook your audience.
According to molecular biologist John Medina of the University of Washington School of Medicine, the human brain craves meaning before details. When a listener doesn’t understand the overarching idea being presented in a pitch, they have a hard time digesting the information. A logline will help you paint the big picture for your audience.
“A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.”
The logline for Jaws identifies the key elements of the story: the hero, his weakness, his conflict, and the hurdles he must overcome — all in one sentence.
Keep it short. In his book Leading, venture capital investor Michael Moritz tells the story of two Stanford graduate students who walked into his office at Sequoia Capital and delivered the most concise business plan he had ever heard. Sergey Brin and Larry Page told Moritz: “Google organizes the world’s information and makes it universally accessible.” In 10 words, that logline led to Google’s first major round of funding.
A logline should be easy to say and easy to remember. As an exercise, challenge yourself to keep it under 140 characters
Identify one thing you want your audience to remember. Steve Jobs was a genius at identifying the one thing he wanted us to remember about a new product. In 2001 it was that the original iPod allowed you to carry “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
The “one thing” should cater to the needs of your audience. A sales professional for a large tech company recently told me a logline that he uses to address the needs of his audience — IT buyers: “Our product will reduce your company’s cell phone bill by 80%.” With one sentence, his customers want to know more because his logline solves a specific problem and will make them look like heroes to their bosses.
Carmine Gallo is the author of Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great(St. Martin’s Press). He is a Harvard University instructor in the department of Executive Education at the Graduate School of Design. Sign up for Carmine’s newsletter at carminegallo.com and follow him on Twitter @carminegallo.