I recently attended a wonderful talk by Mary Ellen Bates on Speaking to be Heard. I apologize for not having a direct link to the slides she used but I could not find them on her website yet, though there is a lot of very interesting information to look through if you have the time to take a look.
At the beginning of this semester I decided to start taking a look at professional development opportunities and to begin bringing my online presence and resume in line with some of what I was seeing in librarian position postings. Part of this endeavor has been looking at a lot of job hunting articles and attending workshops at conferences aimed at moving up when I finish my degree next year. I’ve been to several elevator pitch workshops and the concept of having a good sales pitch is useful, but it comes off as a sales pitch.
Rather than having a 3 minute pitch, you should be working on a compelling hook that encourages your listener to ask you more. While you’ll have several scenarios planned for different environments the one I created for this workshop was “I help you get materials that University Library does not have.” It sounds much flashier than “I work in inter-library loan,” huh? And you’re less likely to slip into ILL. It’s still a sales pitch but it is a sales pitch that makes what you are saying more interesting and palatable to the person you’re speaking to. The other part of the pitch is to try to create a statement that makes you seem useful to the user. The other person is more interested in what you can do for them than the details of how you get there.
Another portion of the presentation was on the ways to solicit feedback from users. The biggest suggestion was to put feedback options where the user was most likely to feel frustrated. The example given in the presentation was to put forms on the card catalog since that is something many users would have difficulty navigating. Now you would put the forms by the computer or perhaps have a widget on the homepage for users to click on. By asking for feedback at a point of frustration the user is likely to remember in great detail what the problem is and how it occurred. If you are able to successfully fix or eliminate the problem now means that when the user returns they are fans of the library, not just because they can get what they want but because you responded to their frustration.
Last but not least, I heard the entirety of the Brand 1985 quote: “Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine – too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient.” Strange how it sounds less like a liberate information rallying cry and more like information has its own plans and strategies.