As Seen on Jay Leno…

What fun it was logging on to my computer on October 15 and finding a host of congratulatory emails from friends about a “Tonight Show” segment in which I had been featured the previous evening. I felt blessed to have such supportive people in my life who took the time to let me know they saw the show.

Pam Lontos, head of PR/PR, a Florida publicity firm (www.PR/ that specializes in speakers and authors, said, “Well, you’ve charmed the Army, Navy, and Air Force. You’ve been endorsed by John Gray, Stephen Covey, and Tony Robbins. But now, for the icing on the cake…AS SEEN ON JAY LENO!!”

What fun it was to see you all decked out in your Maui finery talking about Tongue Fu!® I was so excited I jumped out of the bed. You did great, the audience bought your book, and you got to plug it to millions of people. Congratulations.”

Here’s the back story.

Joe Medeiros, a writer for “The Tonight Show,” travels around the country visiting invention conventions, gift shows, and trade fairs filming people pitching their product. He then picks the “best of the best” and shows them on a segment called “Pitch To America.” Audience members vote with applause after each pitch to indicate whether they thought the product got bought.

Joe brought his crew to the Maui Writers Conference this year. As many of you know, I’ve been involved with MWC since the beginning as its Emcee. I decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up and jumped in front of the cameras for my “15 seconds of fame.”

Imagine my delight when the producers called to share the good news that I was going to be the first pitch featured in the segment. We got even better news when “Tongue Fu!®’s” rating went from 15,000 on Friday afternoon (which is actually pretty good considering the book is 8 years old) to 5,000 on Saturday morning — a jump of 10,000 spots. Yippee.
s selected out of the hundreds filmed that weekend. Here it is, word for word.

“My name is Sam Horn. (Pause.)

I’ve written a book on how to deal with difficult people – without becoming one yourself.” (Pause.)

It’s called . . . . Tongue Fu!® (Big smile).

Tongue Fu!® is . . . martial arts for the mouth. (Point to mouth)

Some of the chapters include:

Fun Fu! –how to handle hassles with humor instead of harsh words.

Tongue Sue! – Tongue Fu!® for lawyers

And Run Fu! – for when Tongue Fu!® doesn’t work.”

Clients were kind enough to tell me I practiced what I teach in my POP! presentations and CD’s.

The premise of POP! is that people today are BBR (Busy, Bored, and Resistant.) They have seen and heard everything, or at least they think they have. To break through their preoccupation; we must have a clear, concise, compelling description that captures their immediate attention.

Based on the enthusiastic feedback received, this pitch did just that. Why?

1. This pitch followed E.B. White’s wise advice that “every word must tell.” It featured succinct sound-bites with no superfluous words.

2. Comedians know the best way to add power to a punch line is to . . . pause dramatically BEFORE it (to elicit anticipation) and AFTER it (so listeners have time to absorb the point.) People are often so nervous when pitching, they talk a mile a minute and their words run together. Arthur Levine, the Scholastic editor for J. K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, once told me, “Sam, I love the way you put space around your words.”

3. The line “how to DEAL with difficult PEOPLE without BECOMING one YOURSELF” is in iambic pentameter. Think of how we learn our ABC’s and nursery rhymes such as “Jack and Jill went up the hill.” Hear how putting words in a beat makes them easy to repeat?

4. The phrase Tongue Fu!® is original, which means people haven’t heard it before which means it piques their curiosity. People are yearning for something fresh. Coining a one-of-a-kind title for your project guarantees that even the most jaded individuals will sit up and pay attention.

5. “Marital arts for the mouth” is alliterative. Words that start with the same sound make our language lyrical and give our mind a hook on which to hang a memory. Plus, pointing to my mouth helped people SEE what I was SAYING so rhetoric became visual.

6. Fun Fu!, Tongue Sue!, and Run Fu! employ the “power of three” – a device orators use to establish and expand a theme with three resonant examples.

7. The playful tone gives the impression this book will be fun. Art Buchwald said, “I learned that when I made people laugh, they liked me: this is a lesson I will never forget.” Taking ourselves too seriously is a fatal flaw when pitching. Over-earnest explanations give the impression our work will be deadly dull. This is the equivalent of taking cod literary oil. People won’t voluntarily read or buy something that may be “good for them” but sounds like it will be boring, hard work.

Are you thinking, “Well, this is interesting, but it doesn’t really apply to me because I don’t have to pitch?”

Yes, it does. We all pitch all the time. We pitch when:

*interviewing for a job

*proposing an idea at a staff meeting

*introducing ourselves at a networking event

*seeking approval or funding for a project

*asking someone for a date

*representing our company at a trade show

*explaining why we deserve to win a contract

Want to learn how you can craft an intriguing pitch that helps your product or proposal POP out of the pack? Visit to order our 3-hour CD series on “POP! How to Create Purposeful, Original, Pithy Names, Brands, and Slogans that Help Your Business, Brand, or Book Stand Out.” Or contact Cheri at to arrange for Sam to speak to your group. Sam’s new book, POP! Stand Out In Any Crowd (Penguin-Perigee) will be released September, 2006.


Reprinted with permission from Sam Horn. All rights reserved.