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Get to the point of your pitch, with POP

Stand Out in Any Crowd
by Sam Horn,

256 pages, $22.95.

In the movie ``Kill Bill," David Carradine (Bill) is about to bop Uma Thurman (Beatrix Kiddo) with the business edge of a samurai sword when Thurman whops Carradine in the chest and stops him in mid-backswing.

In that instant, Thurman achieves what business consultant, trainer, and public speaker Sam Horn calls, in her new book, ``POP!"

Beatrix gets Bill's attention. He pauses long enough to ask, before he takes his last five steps and drops:

``Pai Mei taught you the five-point palm exploding heart technique?"

Well, of course, that venerable martial-arts misogynist taught Kiddo that heart-stopping trickery. And in her book, Horn, a language-arts and marketing maven, is endeavoring to hand off to readers a technique for marketing products or services they have to offer.

She tells the story of how British journalist Lynn Trust drew attention to her book about punctuation by taking her title from this old joke:

A panda walks into a bar, orders and eats a meal, pulls out a six-shooter, fires it into the air, and starts to walk out. The puzzled waiter looks at him and asks, `Why?' The panda throws a dictionary on the table and says: `I'm a panda. Look it up.' The waiter finds the definition and reads, `Panda: Large black and white mammal, indigenous to China. Eats shoots and leaves.

Horn maintains that Trust's grammar book became internationally popular because of the title ``Eats, Shoots & Leaves," but she doubts anyone would have noticed it had it been titled something like ``The Importance of Proper Punctuation."

``POP," of course, is an acronym: purposeful, original, and pithy. Your pitch needs all three ingredients to have POP, says Horn. The viewer, reader, or customer must come away from that pitch knowing what the product or service is, and the pitch must be presented as something unique, and be precise and succinct.

``The human brain can hold only approximately seven bits of information in short-term memory," she writes. ``If our description of our offering is longer than seven words, chances are people won't be able to remember it."

She uses what she calls the `` `Jerry Maguire' test." In the movie, Tom Cruise delivers a soliloquy professing his love for Renee Zellweger's character. She finally interrupts him, saying he had her at ``Hello."

Speaking of movies, the ``Kill Bill" allusion at the beginning of this review was made to illustrate a technique recommended by Horn for ``elevator introductions," i.e., those encounters in which one is asked to tell quickly what one does for a living or has to sell.

That amounts to relating whatever you do or you are trying to sell to a popular movie, book, or song title and making word play off of it.

To help create POP, Horn recommends going to numerous websites to find cliches, titles, and slogans to play around with and either quote with attribution or amend to suit one's purposes.

In some ways this book could be a little disquieting to some people who have reputations for being singularly clever and pithy, because it shows how almost anyone can find tools on the Internet to learn how to radiate something approximating POP.

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