In Fall 2018, one of my first-year college roommates (and for those of you who know me well, no, I'm not talking about my sister-in-law ... for those of you who haven't heard this story, the roommate I had during my second, third, and fourth years of college also became my sister-in-law!), celebrated the release of her first book that is a memoir as well as a tribute to the history of modern soul food.
In it, she includes stories about being in the kitchen with her grandmother, having a high school crush, and growing up in Texas with her two sisters plus over 50 recipes sure to speak to the heart and sufficiently fill the belly. In the fall of 2018, she was invited to an expo to read excerpts from her book and ended up bawling before her audience. BAWLING!
She quickly wrote me, asking if it was normal to feel overwhelmed and to full-on cry during a speaking engagement. I told her ...
It's just talking, right? But it feels like I'm talking to strangers when I'm in an interview. And the pressure mounts even more when there's not one interviewer but three or four!
And some of the questions they ask ... today they are not the typical ones you see online. Sometimes they throw me off my game and ask questions that really seem to require only a one-word answer.
And what about when they ask about weaknesses? I know you're supposed to turn it into a positive, but how does that work?
Oh! And follow-up questions. Sure, I can ask "What is a typical day like in this position?" or "Why do you like working here?" but what else can I ask that will make me sound like the one to hire?
These are the sentiments I've heard from professionals in recent weeks, and I want you to know one thing: I've got you covered. Check out 7 tips that are partially rooted in my philosophy on effective presentation skills because ... well ... an interview is you presenting on the best topic ever, yourself! This is how you show them you are an all-star and that you are unequivocally THE ONE to add to their team!
Did you miss the first 5 things? Check them out HERE! And numbers 6 through 10 are HERE!
11. Never apologize for interrupting/stopping conversations. You have heard a presenter say it; he/she will ask the audience to engage in a conversation about X, Y, or Z, then after a certain amount of time, the presenter will say something along the lines of "I'm so sorry to stop your conversations." This statement is pointless considering these are conversations that must come to an end in order for you to continue with your presentation.
Instead, thank the audience for the robust discussions, then move on with your presentation. Consider saying "Wow! What great conversations! Thank you for engaging. Now to the next point." (Bear in mind you can always evaluate if what you have to say next is as impactful as the conversations. If what the audience is discussing brings more value than the content you had prepared, then consider letting the conversations continue for a few more minutes before continuing with your presentation.)
12. Never diminish your power. For instance, avoid ...
a. saying it's your first time doing anything, e.g., making the presentation, designing a presentation, traveling out of the country, et cetera.
b. saying "I don't know." (Want to know what to say instead? Read this.)
c. folding your arms; remain open and warm. (Check out this post to find out what to do with your arms and hands.)
13. Never position the audience to engage in too much multitasking.
Here's a true story ...
There are those times when you are scheduled to make a presentation, but you simply do not feel up to it. Not at all. Not for a minute. So what do you do? Do you phone it in? Cancel and reschedule? See if you can get a replacement?
Here are real scenarios, most of which I have personally experienced, plus what the best presenters do even in the worst of times. It's tough, but this is the mindset to have when the absolute last thing in the world you want to do is make a presentation!
Even in today's digital society where so much networking takes place online, there are those instances when you have to physically attend networking events. And when you attend networking events, sometimes interacting with others can make you feel like anything but a boss. Some of the challenges you face include but are not limited to trying to find something interesting to say, looking for genuine ways to make newcomers feel welcomed, and finding somewhere to sit down because your feet are killing you! Just kidding ...
When you are networking, you are making a presentation. And no matter your industry or your position, you are an ambassador for your company and, most importantly, for yourself. In this post, you will know how to effortlessly engage with others at networking events with utmost confidence even if you absolutely DREAD small-talk or even if you love small-talk and want some new tactics for making your conversations even more interesting. You will know how to look and sound like an amBOSSador.
Did you miss the first 5 things? Check them out here!
Do you want to see numbers 11 through 15! They're here!
6. Never, after you greet the audience and receive a less than enthusiastic greeting in return, insist on the audience doing a better job of returning your greeting by saying something to the effect of "Come on! You can do better than that!"
a. You have not done anything to get people hyped ... unless you have rock star status. And you immediately make the audience feel inadequate or like it has to do something it really does not want to do.
b. Do not rely on the audience to get you excited. Never make the audience responsible for making you feel welcome and wanted. Get yourself pumped by thinking of the value you're about to bring that's going to rock the house! Think to yourself "Okay. You aren't excited now, but wait until you get a load of this presentation!"
c. Greet everyone, accept the greeting you get in response, then set out to totally wow the crowd. THEN you will see audience excitement go through the roof!
7. Never pose your first question to the audience, then ...
There is so much you want to cover and only so much time to do it. Subconsciously, you want your audience to fall as deeply in love with your topic as you are already in love with it. This tends to cause a problem.
But just a second … this is not to suggest there is something wrong with wanting your audience to find the same value in your content as you find in it. The challenge lies in this desire propelling you to share and share and share to the point you end up rambling, rambling, and rambling. By going off on tangents or losing your train of thought, you also lose your effectiveness and diminish your power with all of the spins and twirls and ups and downs and twists and turns you put in your message.
It's the line you dread hearing ... especially if you are just starting out in your industry or if you are new to entrepreneurship ...
"So ... tell me what it is you do!"
It's not that you do not love what you do or that you do not want to share your professional passion. The challenge is you have not narrowed down exactly how to make this critical 30-second presentation in a succinct fashion so it doesn't put your listener to sleep or doesn't have you rambling.
You must clarify what you do that helps your listener be better at what he/she does. Use this 4-part approach every time you pitch yourself or your business, and you make it very clear to your listener what you do, the results you bring your clients, how you're different from your competitors, and how you're on your way (or already there!) to the top floor!
Um. So I am going to like tell you a little about a challenge in speaking that is sorta like a big issue. But like most people are like super annoyed by it. And ... um ... well ... I can understand why because it's sorta like a problem when it comes to - you know - sounding well like credible.
Now that I've sufficiently tortured you, let's cut to the chase.
Filler words, also called verbal segregates, are a part of everyday speech. We hear professionals use them ... even anchors and reporters use them. We use them all the time, and it's not that the mere use of them is a bad thing; it's problematic when you use them too often, which can weaken your message and, as a result, incredibly diminish your credibility. A repeated use of them makes you sound unsure and makes you look less confident.
It is not recommended that you completely eliminate all filler words from your vocabulary as you will learn in the first suggestion below. In all honesty, (and yes, that phrase is one of my fillers!), the use of filler words makes you sound human! Therefore, you have to decide how many of them is too many to have and use, which ones you want to eliminate, then how to go about doing just that. And this post has you covered on all fronts so your credibility is no longer getting crushed but is instead rock solid. Let's do this!
Everyone, I want you to look at a presentation this way: even if you know only 10% of what there is to know about a topic on which you are presenting, for the most part, that is inextricably more than what your audience knows about the topic. That right there should make your chest stick out at least an inch!
View yourself as the expert, and think that way before and throughout your presentation. It will build you up, and it helps reduce anxiety and lessen your worries about judgment. And another attitude to consider when working to get rid of your nerves and to boost your confidence is if people want to be so judgmental, then they should get up in the front of the room and try to do what you are doing. (Yes. There was some attitude there, but ... well ... that's simply my view on the matter.)