There are people that can and people that can't apparently....and I get that in some ways; natural extroverts who can perform under the spot-light at the drop of a hat and offer entertaining informing and effective presentations do exists but they are a lot thinner on the ground than you might think...
It is possible to make yourself into a very able presenter, to manage the nerves, understand the mechanics of being effective and interesting and actually come to quite enjoy them rather than dreading them and avoiding them like the plague..
I suggest that you ask yourself a few basic questions every time you are asked to present:
You also need to understand what kind of presentation you are delivering:
You will conclude that probably it is a mixture of a few of the key aspects above. Your Personal Brand Influence is simply how you can impact the presentation being successful by offering your unique delivery to the words and images and that is about the music of your voice, your animation (hands and body) your eye contact, your movement around the space, your smile and your presence....all of these are key to being noticed, entertaining, persuading and effective.
Worried that you might not have then star quality to wow and audience? Well there are some key ingredients that always impress and engage; professionalism and humour in the right mix, you can get an audience on side with both in the right measure depending on who they are and what they want from the presentation. Your call but judge it right and you will have them interested! Also jeopardy, meaning what happens if....they don't buy, agree or engage with your product / concept. Tell them a story, everyone loves a good story, make it interesting but give it a sting, the what happened when...sting that underpins your argument...also practice the living daylights out of your words and actions, make them natural but use your script, picture prompts and actions to underline your point, be lucid and confident and they will naturally want to listen.
Confidence is about knowing what you aim to say, how you will say it and having purpose. Introvert or extrovert aside, practice does make perfect but a sense of purpose really is the key. Authenticity and personal investment all reap huge rewards and as the old adage says 'people buy from people' it is true and you have the power to control that in your audience.
Most of all have fun with it; enjoy the fact that you can have a real and lasting impact on the audience in terms of their reaction to, thoughts about and actions after your presentation. We offer one to one presentation / performance coaching that really can make a huge difference, based on the above principles and the support of expert and informed observation, feedback and skills development. It does not need to be something you dread in fact it can be something you relish and thrive at...
copyright Paul Goring 2014
I have been involved in recruitment for over 10 years and the thing that I still find difficult to understand is candidates use of clichéd words or phrases when they are trying to write a CV that will help them to stand out from the crowd?!!
There are many words / phrases that get shoe-horned into CV's because they worked for someone a generation ago, because that's what everyone writes or because, and lets be totally honest about this, people don't spend the time to think about a better, more unique, more personal way of saying it.
You can imagine the recruiters worst nightmare; 200 CV's to sift through to select candidates for interview, trying to find the real person in each one, trying to read into the wording to find out who they are and what they can offer and everyone, one after the other, uses the following words and phrases...it becomes like a never ending CV ground hog day.....
1. Successful (successfully)
2. I can work well individually or in a team
3. I work well under pressure
4. I consistently hit my targets
5. Passion (passionate)
7. I am looking to develop my career
8. Fast learner
9. Hard worker
10. etc etc
There are ways to find a new a more individual way to describe you, what you have done and how well you have done it.
· Try not repeating the same word or phrase at all in the CV, that automatically brings variety
· Try using a Thesaurus and find a few new words that can make your CV m ore interesting, varied and memorable
· Actually read your CV out loud before you send it anyone; does it sound boring and repetitive and run of the mill to you? If it does then change it.....
How much better would the above sound with a little thought...how much more of a pleasant experience would it be for the recruiter if candidates weren't just reeling off lines that careers advisor's, parents or friends had told them would 'work.' If everyone thinks they will then we are back to the beginning because they won't.
Branding you through your CV is becoming as sophisticated as product branding - people don't just buy washing powder these days because it gets clothes clean and smells nice..you get the idea...
You are unique - allow your CV to show that uniqueness in your choice of language and phraseology....make your CV one that I (we) will remember rather than one that anyone could have written....
Sounds like something a wise man once said doesn't it? A wise man may well have said it but so did I and I continue to say it to any career coaching client who I work with; experienced professional, graduate or school-leaver and I want to explain why these few words are so key to you getting what you want from your career.
Let's be clear I am not advocating saying anything in your CV or interview performance that is untrue, far from it, what I am encouraging is that we all learn to amplify our message to employers by being comfortable in saying positive, upbeat and impressive things about ourselves.
There is a particularly English / British tradition that modesty is a laudable quality, that to be loud and obvious is somehow crass and a little distasteful. I agree that clumsy and obvious self-promotion can be counter-productive and at worst annoying but that is not what I am advocating here; I am saying to everyone that is frustrated by being overlooked, a close second to the successful candidate or by the lack of progression in their career that you need to forget false or real modesty and begin to think about everything you say and write being part of an accumulated PR strategy that will help you to tell the world how brilliant you are!
It is not about dwelling on any of the descriptions that have been used to keep people in their place...it's not 'showing off', it's not 'being big headed' and is certainly not 'boastful' it is simply being your own biggest fan and being able to lucidly and convincingly tell the world about the great things you have done, can do and want to do.
People generally speaking love to meet authentic, confident, lucid and interesting people. Whether that is in the pub, on holiday, in work or in an interview. People remember people who are able to demonstrate their self-confidence and their skills with strong examples and body language, voice, eyes, smile and posture that all back up the content. It is liberating not to be always worried about what people think of how you are saying something when you come to terms with the fact that it is what you are saying that they will focus on.
If you fail to flag up something that is important and relevant because you don't want to show off then who wins? If the CV next to yours on the desk or the person after you in the interview is able to show what they can do and do it in a proud and confident and persuasive way then who wins?
Modesty is the enemy of opportunity - all candidates need for the sake of their own futures to be able to suspend their modesty and get the message across in no uncertain terms......
The title of this blog article is the best advice I can give any career seeking school leaver or graduate at the moment. Why? Because it works!
I know that the kind of jobs that you may be aspiring to and may have geared your education towards may not be thick on the ground at the moment and that getting a chance to be interviewed can often feel like constantly hitting the same brick wall but that does not mean that settling for second best and going off the radar of all employers is the way to deal with it. There are loads of cracking job and career opportunities out there but the candidates that get them are the ones who are prepared to do the leg work, build the relationships and get noticed...
Go to everything...
Look on-line, in printed media and through social media for every opportunity to get out into the world with a smile on your face, your best interview gear on and your CV in your pocket. The numbers game of on-line applications, posting your CV on one of the big sites or connecting with an agency is of course worth it because they might find you what you want. But I strongly encourage anyone, of any age, to get out there and find opportunity for themselves.
I am not of the Norman Tebbit school of 80's thought when he encouraged people to get on their bike and find work, patronising as it was, instead I am very much of the school of thought that you live, in person, being brilliant and smart and excited and interested is going to have a far greater chance of being spotted.
Why? Well despite many 'big' employers computerising their recruitment filters to the point of programming key words and qualifications into their selection programmes on-line; there are still vast numbers of employers, decision makers, recruiters and event organisers that understand about personal brand, making an impact, the personal touch and impressing someone with actions and words and not just qualifications and experience.
In my experience SME's particularly take great heed of their 'gut feel' for an individual candidate. Because every single one of their staff matters to them, as there are fewer, then meeting people is a way they still find their stars of tomorrow.
So prepared with a CV that does all of things I have spoken about at length in the past as 'the flier for the brand of you' (see previous blogs) and with a brave attitude to talking to anyone because as I have said in the past 'you never know who the person will be that gives you a break' you should get yourself along to everything that might lead somewhere; careers events, networking events, industry events, university and college events and national employment events at the big venues like the NEC.
Prepare your 'pitch', know what your USP's are and be ready to really sell yourself when you get the ear of someone who wants to listen and is interested in what you have to offer. As a recruiter of 20+ years standing from my point of view you being there already puts you in credit with me and then if you have a positive attitude, something to say and some energy and interest then you are really beginning to get my interest...
Speak to everyone...
Be that person who is interested in what every employer does, find out more, understand when you hear an opportunity that you like that you need to act and project the professional image that you want to promote going forwards; set yourself dress, speech and manners standards and let those things as well as your skills, knowledge and competencies be your message to employers...you will be saying 'I mean business!'
Networking is a very inexact science and actually the more you try and apply scientific methods to it a) the more mercenary you appear and b) the more you remove the random factor... but talking to people and asking questions and being open and honest about what you aspire to does work..
My two best job / career conversations? One was with a lovely Australian lady in a bar in Paris at Christmas time and the other was with a chap by the coffee machine during lunch at a careers event...you never know, who or when but you need to be there to benefit and to be on duty for your brand at all times to get the most from any good fortune.
I think it was Gary Player (the very good South African golfer for you Tiger Woods generation people) who said 'the more I practice the luckier I get' that's kind of my point in a nutshell!
I guess I need to start with a list of things that events get really badly wrong to start to illustrate my answer:
That all pervading smell of cheap coffee (you know they say that the smell of freshly made ground coffee its one of the best ways to sell a house? Well one of the best ways to ruin any event is that cheap coffee smell that seems to get into the very pores of the people who have been there all day!)
Stale pastries (if you say breakfast mean it please - I don't want yesterdays paying customers left-over's, really!)
The local 'cartel' of welcoming /unwelcoming networkers in prominent positions trying to suss out if you will be competition for them (I really hate this - I think that networking can be one of the key celebrations of local business communities but when people are cold shouldered or not engaged with as they might be competition for one of the organisers or long term group members the whole thing falls very sourly short of anything valid)
Badges that you cannot read from a distance (avoids the need to waste time talking to people who you will never do business with and that awkward staring at people's chest close up thing..)
People trying to sell stuff to you before they even know your name (robot salesman who have been taught their pitch word for word and sent to the event to get some 'hot leads', crass and uninteresting and always slightly awkward for everyone involved isn't it?)
Forced 'elevator' pitches (people project their brand, personality and ability to connect in different ways. I know there needs to be a way for people to get started but please find a better way as this is usually excruciating)
Organisers with agenda's that are eventually obvious and nothing to do with how they got you to attend ( I equate this to that horrible realisation that you have been conned into a time-share presentation / sales promotion event thinking you were attending a tapas evening. Authenticity is a must for engagement and for people to not feel you have wasted their time. This sort of thing is never forgotten.)
Events that don't know if they are for business or social purposes (this is one of my pet issues with networking events; is the event an excuse for a loose social gathering with a bit of business thrown in or is it a genuine opportunity to promote your business, services and self?)
So you will have gathered that I have issues with how networking events are conceived and delivered. I am really not knocking those that try to get something started and have the right intentions but to get this kind of thing right is really quite skilled; a cup of coffee, a suitably sized room and a few dozen people does not a networking event make.
I love the events where there is both a purpose for attending and an opportunity to network in a natural, relaxed and professional way.
I enjoy meeting people that have lots of interesting, diverse and exciting things to say about themselves and their business and I listen to people who have the ability to project and connect and who know when to move on.
Networking can be a joy (if that is the right word) when it does not feel forced or hard work.
Some of my best clients and biggest projects have been acquired / earned or initiated through simple one to one conversation in a great environment that has been thoughtfully and intelligently created.
That's all - not difficult....
Paul Goring 2014
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