Your 30-Second Story
Next to a well-written full story, a good 30-second story is THE most valuable tool you can possess in your search because it's the foundation on which all other tools are built. A 30-second story is a summary that tells people about your need in a very short time. In business, this is known as an elevator speech, but it's not a speech in the sense that most people think of it. It's a quick summary that briefly and simply summarizes a person, product, or--in your case, your need for a living donor--in the time it takes to ride an elevator . . . about 30 seconds. Its purpose is to get someone's attention and interest them in finding out more.
Most people are very busy these days, but many are willing to listen if it's brief. Even if a person doesn't ask more or engage in conversation, you still have the opportunity to give him or her your business card, which the person may very well look at later. Again . . . next to a well-written full story, a good 30-second story is THE most important tool you can possess. Don't overlook it!
How do I get started? Every conversation is an opportunity for a 30-second story. For example, a common greeting when people meet is "How are you?" This is the perfect opening to reply with the first sentence of your story. (For example, "Well, I'm [something positive], but I'm a little worried. My kidneys are failing, and I need a transplant.")
Conversation Starters Depending on the conversation, launching into a 30-second story can sometimes feel a bit awkward. One especially easy way to get around this is to begin with an interest-catcher to spark conversation. One type of interest-catcher, or conversation starter, that will easily capture attention is a t-shirt with a picture and clever line, such as "In Need of a Bean." Such things spark questions. When dogs or babies are around, they're often the center of attention, so dog bandanas and baby t-shirts ("Match my Mom?") are especially good. You can also make or purchase wristbands, jewelry, aprons, tote bags, etc. The more attention-grabbing, the better! You can learn more about conversation starters and where to find them here.
How do I write it? Your 30-second story should cover 5 basic points. Let's walk through them together. Start by making a 5-point list of what you want to say. Make it personal and write from your heart. Write the same way you talk.
Point 1: The fact that your kidneys are failing and you need a transplant To personalize it you may say for example, "When I was a kid, I had a strep infection that damaged my kidneys. I've been pretty much OK till a couple years ago. But now my kidneys are failing, and I need a transplant."
Point 2: How long you've been on dialysis (or how soon you'll have to start) Personalize it by briefly telling what that experience has been like for you or what you expect it will be like.
Point 3: How long you've been on the list and how long your wait might be If yours will be a difficult match for some reason, mention that.
Point 4: The reason you're seeking a living donor Personalize it by naming an advantage that is especially important to you, such as the fact that a living-donor kidney generally lasts twice as long as a deceased-donor kidney. Refresh your memory about the many advantages of living donation by clicking here.
Point 5: How your life will improve with a transplant For example, you may have the energy to return to work or a hobby; you may be looking forward to spending time with friends instead of going to dialysis; or perhaps you can't wait to return to a normal diet.
After listing your 5 points, put them together into a paragraph, using transition (or joining) words and phrases to make one sentence flow smoothly to the next. (Transition words are words such as "so," "in other words," and "however.") For a complete list of transition words, click here.
Practice, but don't memorize! Unless you're a professional speaker, a memorized story will sound memorized. You don't want to come off sounding like a robot. Instead, just memorize key words, such as those in the column at the right. It's much easier and will help you tell your story without sounding like a droid.
Practice telling your story in front of a mirror and then with a friend or family member. Keep practicing until the words come to you easily. Once you have your elevator story down, knowing what to say will be a breeze! End your story by handing your listener 2 business cards. Ask him or her to share the extra card with someone.
Key Words to Remember
1. Kidney failure; transplant
3. Waiting list
4. Living donor reason
5. Life improvement