In the last few posts I’ve touched upon the use of body language and perception. Basically, how your verbal message should match your physical mannerisms. What I didn’t get into was how to use your body (and voice) to convey the strongest and most compelling message possible to employers.
If you think about it, it’s not just about how you carry yourself but how you use all aspects of communication to present your ideas. With so many great online talks from TED to INCITE, it’s easier then ever to watch and study the best speakers to get ideas. Great presentations are really both an art and a science and despite what many people think, IT CAN BE LEARNED!
When you’re networking or in an interview, you are basically presenting yourself, so in that context think of the following:
- The “story” you want to tell (goal)
- What you want the audience to get out of it (aim)
- Why they should care
- Keep it short and to the point (the average listener can only focus for 15 minutes at a time)
- Speak with passion!
For more info, check out Steven Knight’s 4 part Linkedin series:
How to produce and deliver a winning presentation
Present with power: voice and body language
Why passion and facial expression matter
Your voice is the key to your success
If you really want to delve into improving your presentation skills, here are two books I would recommend on the subject:
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun
How to deliver a great TED talk by Akash Karia
So now that you know about some of the negative things that could be coming across to potential employers through your body language, how can you change it?
Try Power Posing.
Ever since Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk in 2012 on power posing and confidence, this seemingly small move has become a huge sensation. Basically the pose, which consists of placing your hands on your hips and your feet apart (think Superman or Wonder Woman), when held for around 2 minutes has been scientifically proven to build confidence. Subsequently, Amy’s famous quote of “fake it’ til you become it” has quickly become a part of our modern vernacular. Check out the full talk and see for yourself:
How Power Posing can work to boost your confidence
Now that you’ve tried power posing repeat the suggestion in the last post to either record yourself or have a friend watch you while answering common interview questions. Notice the difference? You may now be using the following positive gestures while speaking without even realizing that you’re doing it!
Action: Brisk erect walk
Action: Standing with hands on hips
Action: Open palm
Meaning: Sincerity, Openness
Action: Steepling fingers
Action: Quickly tilted head
Action: Stroking chin
Meaning: Thinking about a decision
Action: Consistent eye contact
Meaning: Confidence, honesty
Now there will be no mistaking your message to employers as your confidence will match your words.
With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games under way it’s tough to imagine the grueling work each athlete had to endure to get to where they are today. I know I could never do what they do … I get wobbly just trying to walk to a skating rink yet alone trying to skate! But at the very least we can learn a few things from their mindset and how thinking like a champion is half the battle.
Expect to win
When you enter an interview, as hard as it may seem, try not to think “I hope to get this job” instead practice saying to your self “I’m going to get this job” it does make a difference in the confidence you’ll project.
Set your self up for small wins
The many small wins that qualify an athlete for the Olympics are just as important as the BIG event. So for example, if cold-calling a potential employer seems daunting, try calling a friend who’s an employer or try calling businesses you’re not as interested in first. This will give you practice and confidence when you make the more important calls.
Don’t make excuses
It’s rare to hear interviewees take ownership for why they didn’t get a job, but for those who do, 9 times out of 10 they’ll get hired much sooner. Why? This is something that most Olympians are all too aware of, human error is inevitable but instead of laying blame they use it to improve their technique make corrections and ultimately become better athletes.
Focus on what you can do
Does a figure skater bemoan the fact they can’t bobsled? NO! They focus on what they can do and make the most of the skills they have. It’s perfectly normal to focus on the negatives as to why you won’t get a job, but you can overcome this attitude. For example: Look at the job posting and list in bullet points all the ways your skills and experience fulfill the company wish list, this not only builds your confidence but it’s also good interview practice because you’ll be prepared when the employer asks “Why should we hire you?”
They don’t give up
Many athletes have an inner tenacity and desire to win that is admirable. Whether it’s called the “X” factor or “Heart” it’s clear, that after all the training and hard work this sometime it can mean the difference between gold and silver. Cultivate your passion and purpose and you too can experience victory!