Whoever told you that presenting to a group of people is easy, does not know what he or she is talking about. Coming up with a brilliant idea is not a problem. The way in which it comes across to your audience is what makes a difference. Presenting to a group of people can be a daunting exercise - a trial of fire - but one which you emerge from as a more confident communicator, who is able to connect with a diverse range of people.
I recently attended a meeting where a presentation was being given. The presenter was visibly nervous, well-dressed and had well-prepared information. Unfortunately, it can be very challenging in getting a hold on ones nerves during these situations. Everyone has a different way of dealing with nerves when in front of an audience or a large group of people. At the end of the day, whether you imagine everyone being naked; down a few shots of scotch or tell a joke to break the ice, it is important that you can control your nerves and are able to get your point across in the best way possible. Yes, we are always selling ourselves and even when we think we are not, we still are.
I always tell my clients that when they speak, they must imagine that it is as if a river is flowing from their mouths. Your body, thoughts, speech and body language are all interconnected. They must all flow in unison, each being a part of the greater whole and should mimic the ebb and flow of the ocean and its waves. It is very interesting how the sound of water can be used to calm, and on the other hand too much or too little can have negative results. So too with communication - and presentations. Just allow your mind, soul, body and language to flow as easily and continuously as a river and so too will the presentation.
Correct posture, positive facial expressions and gestures as well as engaging with the audience are some of the tools in the proverbial basket that allow you to influence a person or group of people whether it is an idea that you are selling or presenting a financial report at a shareholders meeting. The verbal and non-verbal elements in any presentation must match, When they are contrary to each other, the audience becomes confused, creating doubt, mistrust and disbelief in the presenter and the message that is being conveyed. People by their very nature veer towards consistency; and it is the consistency between what you say and what you do that will win over even the most hostile audience.
You go for a job interview and receive the call that the job is yours. You are filled with appreciation, excitement and an increased level of self confidence. You arrive for work and are shown to your desk or office and for the first week everything seems to be going well. Your boss shows you the ropes and explains what needs to be done on a daily basis. In no time you are able to perform to the standard that is required. A short time later you are told that you need to create a permanent place for yourself within the company and "something" for yourself so that you become indispensable. Following this one-sided discussion. a day passes and your supervisor or manager is on your back again about something else. You are berated, made to feel less than, and in some extreme cases even sworn at.
What do you make of this? is this abuse? is this a case of an indecisive manager? Are you at fault? On the one hand you may need to keep this job; on the other hand, the mixed messages that you have been constantly receiving can cause much damage to ones self-esteem. Such "communication" smacks of disrespect and poor communication skills.
The definition of communication according to the Oxford dictionary is "The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium." Of course this does not say anything about kindness, fairness or decency for other people. It is merely the ability to impart information from one person to another. However, if the message is constantly mixed up and unclear; or whether a task is completed by you satisfactorily and you are not commended for the effort or for completing the task, then where did the lines of communication become blurred or non-existent? What is the point in developing and nurturing a long-standing business relationship with this type of person?
Where does this end? When do you finally decide that you have been sufficiently abused and mistreated and that the time has come to simply walk away?
A business is unable to expand without everyone pulling in the same direction. It becomes difficult though, when the customers are treated well by this person, who belittles his or her staff. What is even worse is when customers happen to be in the vicinity while you are being scolded. Putting aside the fact that you are an employee, even if you were to pull the manager aside and speak frankly about the fact that you will not be treated this way, will possibly only make matters worse. The fact is that you are in a catch-22 position. In other words, and as the story seems to be going, "damned if you do and damned if you don't." At times you may kick yourself and try to gear yourself up to say to this bully "I quit!" but on the other hand where is the sense in that?
The answer is not as cut and dried as we all like to think. Quitting a job, just like saying goodbye to a loved one or being placed in very emotionally challenging situations can teach us a lot about our own character. We are able to learn very valuable lessons from these scenarios. However, what is concerning is the fact that some people seem to have lost their compassion, that can be very useful, not only when creating friendships, but also in business. Communicate effectively and a message will be decoded in the way you intend. Use emotion and power in a message, and it would seem that at least one party gets hurt or offended! Is it unethical to communicate this way in business?
Do you find that you tense up and busy yourself with odds and bobs around the office when you hear that you need to begin cold calling? Are you putting silly notions in your own head that you will not get the deal and therefore you are refraining from cold calling? Let's all take a step back and just breathe! I find that the best way to overcome this fear or negative attitude towards cold calling is to relax and put yourself in a positive space, and most importantly, try to get yourself into a powerful position or powerful mindset. Below are a few tips that have helped me through cold calling, which I am certain will do the same for you. It is important to keep in mind that making a cold call is not just having a person on the receiving end of the telephone listening to all you have to say and to eventually agree with you and buy all that you have to offer. A cold call is an art in itself and by following a few set rules, you can save yourself much frustration, pain and rejection. This must begin with self control and an understanding of how consumers think.
To begin with, attitude is everything! Do not begin the cold call when you are in a bad mood. Always smile before picking up the receiver and the other person will feed off your happiness. When making this telephone call, make sure that you are in the right frame of mind and that you are willing to deal with all the negativity and rejection words: "I am sorry, but the boss is out of the office right now." "The boss is fully booked for the next three months." "Sorry, but the boss has just stepped away from his/her desk." "I am sorry, but the boss has said that you can send a proposal and he will get back to you." Eventually, you hear so many sorry's that collectively, it almost sounds insincere. How would you react to all of these comments? If not for your desire to make your business a success, you would just give up. It may be a good idea to effectively communicate your desires and sell! Make sure that you speak clearly and in a direct and firm manner. It does not matter what industry you are in, you will always notice that you will need to either sell yourself as a brand or sell your product. Both positions require effective and direct communication.
As a response to the above comment, that the boss would prefer to look at a proposal before meeting with you, hypothetically try to consider a rewind of the phone call. As I mentioned, attitude is everything, so always begin your phone call by asking the secretary how she/he is and if she/he is able to assist you. Provide a brief explanation of what it is you do and how you are able to assist the company. Some times the front line staff member will automatically ask you to send an email with your business profile, website address and other important information required for the company to get an idea of what you can provide. Do not forget to ask if there is a chance that you will be able to speak with the owner of the company directly to organize a meeting. This response is more direct and instead of being defeatist, you are creating a relationship with one of the most important people in the company. If the company owner is unavailable, ask if you can call back and speak with him or her at a more convenient time.
It is imperative that you create that initial positive and trusting relationship in order to be able to gain access to the boss. How do you create that aspect of trust and develop your relationships with others? Some make jokes and this can work. However, you need to ensure that if you make a joke, it is not rude, has no racial insults and is not degrading of people in general. Have you tried using this method? did you find that this worked for you? Remember to always be professional and mind your manners!
Mind Your Manners
People have forgotten how important it is to have manners. Being courteous and polite does not mean that you are allowing someone to take advantage of your good nature. Politeness means that you have come from good breeding and that you have respect for yourself and for other human beings. A mere "please" and "thank you", opening a door for someone in need or allowing another person to walk through a door before you, always goes a long way.
If you want something bad enough, you need to have the desire, drive and guts to go and get it for yourself and do not stop trying until you reach your goal! the only person standing between you and your goal is yourself. Stop telling yourself that you "can't". Rather pick yourself up and try your best. The only way you will learn and improve is by making mistakes. Show the front line staff member that you mean business, you are trustworthy and would like to assist the company. Once you create this relationship, the rest becomes easier.
Speaking With The "Big Boss"
At long last, you finally manage to get through to the company owner. What do you say? By now you are slightly shaken, palms sweaty, you have a lump in your throat and are just about to drop the phone and bow your head in shame. No! step back, take a deep breath. It is almost as if you have to prepare yourself not only for the conversation with the front line staff member and the time it takes for you to eventually be transferred to the boss, but also to eventually speak directly to the boss. These calls can create such a whirlwind of emotions, where even after a simple telephone conversation we find ourselves completely shattered or extremely excited. From a communication perspective, both of these extremities can cause us to loose sight of what it that we truly want and how we need to get it.
Of course, we all know that sales can be a very challenging career choice that one is required to constantly work at and to continuously develop relationships and connections with many different people. These connections then provide leverage for you to be able to do business with the larger companies. Do not be hasty, needy, a constant bother, insulting or give any reason for your business connection to not want to have anything to do with you. I am not saying lie down and allow your connection to do as he/she pleases with you. I am saying stand your ground when needed, but be prepared to back away when this is also necessary. It can be tough to gauge, but over time and the more you practice cold calling and relationship building, the easier it will become.
The trick is to always remain calm, know your business inside out and make sure that you have a full understanding of your product and costing. Without these, it becomes very difficult to get the upper hand when cold calling and when you eventually reach the opportunity to have your meeting. Always keep at a fairly even emotional and mental state. Think clearly and know what it that you want out of the meeting.
What is Return on Investment (ROI)? Does one size fit all businesses? How does one assess ROI when it comes to communication, and particularly the training and coaching of communication skills? If your business is not grappling with these questions then it is likely missing out on a critical component of improving sales, customer experience, staff satisfaction, improvements in productivity and increases in revenue.
Communication skills are often taken for granted. This is ironic, as it is the lifeblood of any business. If one considers the five areas mentioned, each one is directly or indirectly reliant on effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Understanding how effective an employee is at applying their skills and knowledge in the way they communicate is an essential component in determining whether there has, in fact, been a return on investment and a closing of the skills gap.
Businesses tend to only consider the direct impact that expenses have on their bottom line, and for this reason the development of communication skills is often harder to justify. The indirect impact that improved communication has, is far more valuable than most managers and executives are prepared to admit. So let's take a closer look at these five areas and how communication training and coaching has a positive impact on employees, the business and its customers.
Sales is the lifeblood in every business. It has become an increasingly challenging and demanding function, having a direct impact on a business' profitability. Sales is also no longer confined to only a sales team. Everyone within a business must be on the lookout for new opportunities to do business. How one communicates with and relates to other people, especially potential customers, is of vital importance.
Sales improvements are immediately measurable in a number of ways. Establishing how much of a difference communication training and coaching makes over and above other factors allows management to calculate the return on investment. Communication assessments, measuring interpersonal skills, clarity of speech, assertiveness and other factors make this distinction easier to identify. The human interaction and communication components of sales require measurement, since sales has become far more relationship oriented.
Customer service allows for the opportunity to on-sell, up-sell and is essential in retaining existing customers. A business and all its client-facing employees must foster a good relationship with customers. Customer service does not only entail treating a customer respectfully and providing good products or services at competitive prices. Taking the time to establish a relationship with customers and communicating effectively and empathetically, however enhances the perception of service excellence. Looking after one's customers and communicating more effectively creates new opportunities for business to be done at a lower cost of sale where the business relationship has already been established.
Every business, whether service or product-based will at times forget about its most valuable asset - its staff. A happy staff is a productive staff. A happy staff results from being satisfied in the workplace and this is usually due to three main reasons:
Effective communication, in fact, forms the basis of any happy staff, whether that communication comes in the form of: understanding one's specific job role, being involved in a meaningful 2-way dialogue (in the case of suggestions, appraisals and similar internal discussions) or just developing team unity and constructive criticism. Without proper internal communication there cannot be true staff satisfaction and staff turnover rates increase, having a profound impact on a business' recruitment costs - and ultimately its bottom line.
Productivity has a direct impact on the sustainability and profitability of any business. Firm but fair communication is an essential factor in motivating and encouraging employees, as well as dealing with issues of conflict, complaints and job effectiveness. An unmotivated and under-appreciated (verbally) staff tends to be be more involved in negative self-talk. This has a dire effect on morale and productivity. Reduced levels of productivity may result in an increased number of dissatisfied customers, meaning that both the sales and customer service departments have to work even harder to retain those customers. This has a direct impact, once again, on the cost of sale and keeping clients. Effective verbal and non-verbal communication from suitably skilled supervisors and managers goes a long way to minimizing this downward spiral in a business. These skills are equally necessary for lower level employees, so that they are equipped to express themselves without having to go to such extremes as strikes or mass action.
All four of these key areas are impacted by the way that businesses, supervisors, managers and leaders interact and communicate with their employees. All four have a direct or indirect effect on a company's bottom line, and all four are dependent on various communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, being suitably managed at both individual and group levels. What business can, therefore, afford not to train or coach their employees at all levels?
Whether it is sales, customer service, productivity or staff satisfaction, effective communication is imperative. The "soft skill" of communicating positively has been overlooked by many businesses and training or coaching in this skill has often been disregarded as showing a return on investment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
~ Michelle Shippel is a speech and communication specialist and the MD of Talkwell Communications. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favourite musicals "My Fair Lady" has always had, and always will have, a great and very positive impact on both my life and my work. Funnily enough, I was even referred to by one of my many clients as "the Fair Lady." The ability to communicate and express oneself genuinely, whether through a musical instrument, vocally, artistically or through dance has becoming increasingly challenging and without the basic tools in order to do so, this ability may possibly never be mastered. Now of course not everyone is artistic. Not everyone has the luxury of learning to play an instrument or to develop and nurture an acting talent. However, everyone is given the opportunity and basic tools to learn how to speak and express themselves through verbal and non- verbal communication. This is taught in schools; by parents and for those who may require, through professional teachers and or therapists.
Being able to string a sentence together or recite a phrase can be done by anyone as long as the basic skills have been acquired. However, in the world of work, where constant "boiling, bubbling, toiling and troubling" happen, you will need to up your game! Why you ask, is it important to express yourself genuinely through different modes? Well, I will not answer this question for you, as the answer is obviously within you. However, I will give you examples of people who should have taken this opportunity and would have been the better for it.
Some time back, I was introduced to a gentleman who was a regular professional speaker. He decided that he needed a few sessions in order to extend himself. However, as a result of some personal troubles, he had to quit his training. Of course, he was making progress. However, had he continued with his training on a constant basis, he would have achieved what he wanted to, and far more. In other words, nurturing and mastering your communication skills is an art in itself, that requires time, patience, energy and continuity. The time factor has always, understandably, bothered people, however achieving personal goals takes time and frustration can raise its ugly head. In this case, and let us assume we are focusing on voice exercises, just stop what you are doing and take a step back. Personal development can be aggravating, but do not get disconcerted. Relax and see things for what they are and allow yourself the time to develop and work on yourself properly.
Currently, as we know it, the world is slowly coming out of an economic crisis. This unfortunately means that the skill allowing people to genuinely and properly communicate is packed away in a box, stacked away in the cellar of your enclosed mind and forgotten about for many years, until it becomes too late to seek out this assistance or even to do anything with this ability. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade? If self development is something that you seek and is needed, then it should be sought after straight away. You have one vehicle in this life and it is your body; treat it well, respect it and make sure that you are given the attention that you need not only from others but from you yourself as well, otherwise you become of very little use and maybe even a hindrance, in extreme cases, to those around you.
So, what is so important about being able to communicate? This is a challenging question to answer as each person has a different need, reason for wanting to communicate, a different reason for the need of self expression. So, as an example we will look at corporates. The corporate world requires that you dress, speak, act and perform certain roles in a particular way. If you do not fit in with the culture of the company, then it is highly likely that you will not get the job. However, if you are confident; have excellent interpersonal skills; you have a good understanding of your area of expertise; your body language matches what you are saying and you can speak eloquently; then it is more likely that you will excel at both the job interview and the job itself. Of course, there is so much more entailed when it comes to being able to speak well and have good body language. The "Talkwell" side focuses on how you move those facial and other organs in order to be able to pronounce words correctly and clearly. You see, it is not enough to just be able to string a sentence together and just utter the words. Communication is the intricate weave of clear speech, emotion, word usage and word order, confidence, facial expression, pronunciation and of course knowledge on the topic.
Should you find that any of these areas are lacking, then it is most likely that you are in need of guidance and assistance to improve your communication skills. Give yourself the attention you deserve. The return on investment may not necessarily be financial. However, the ability to communicate and connect confidently is your key to unlocking the door to you future successes.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It does not take a wise person to explain that there is something wrong in the way people communicate and connect with one another. Communication is an art that has to be perfected in order for it to be used to your advantage. Just take a look at these few pointers and you are well on your way to improved communication.
Step 1: Take Interest
Having a conversation is very much like trying to make a sale. Now please remember I am not talking about personality here. I am simply looking at the process that is taken from the moment you pick up the product that you are trying to sell, up until the buyer has accepted terms and conditions and has purchased the product. When we communicate, we need to remember to be calm, believe in yourself and what you are saying. Facial expression is very important! Think of what it is you want to say before you say it. This may help reduce nervous and self confidence trouble. Relax and just be yourself. Do not be pretentious and do not over-communicate and offer too much information.
The first step of starting up the conversation with others, means you need to take a genuine interest in the other person and in what he or she is telling you about. Imagine you find yourself at a party. You are standing alone by the drinks table and you see someone walking to the table to pour him/herself a drink. Do not be scared to strike up a conversation. Say hello and introduce yourself. Relax and let the conversation flow naturally. Once the introductions are out of the way and depending on how well the initial part of the conversation went, you may now proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Share
This stage allows you to talk about what you do for a living. Always be direct and confident about what you do because any uncertainty, shifty behaviour or shuffling will result in the conversation coming to an abrupt and immediate halt. If this happens, do not try to push and prod to make the conversation continue. No matter how hard you try, the other person will now unfortunately have someone better to speak with. Just let nature take its course and you never know, there may be an opportunity in the future to have a brand new and improved conversation with the same person. Allow the person to forget the previous conversation. Get up dust yourself off and have the confidence to try again and this time you will succeed.
Step 3: Create Interest
Step three allows you to now get creative and build a story for the listener. Each one of us is interesting in different ways. Find your common ground by asking questions. Do not ask too many questions and do not offer information that is not relevant to the current conversation. As an example, if the common ground has been established as loving sport, do not all of a sudden begin speaking about theatrical shows and musicals. Rather show your genuine interest in what the person is saying and try to learn from the person. Over-communication can cause the person to run for the hills and to possibly never want to speak with you again.
Just like any well rounded story, your sales pitch or conversation needs to be well-rounded and well-developed. It must have a beginning, middle and ending. Always use a positive spin. Do not be negative when speaking as the person will feel drained and disinterested, causing the conversation to taper off.
Step 4: Closing
Now that you have managed to get through the first three stages of a conversation, the rest becomes easy. You have been able to keep the person speaking till now and this is where you decide if you would like to meet the person again or if you would like to keep it to just this one conversation. Assuming you choose to see the person again, it may be a good idea to exchange contact details. Let the person know when you will be contacting him or her. Say goodbye for the evening and thank the person for taking the time to speak with you. Manners, politeness and consideration are important aspects to remember when communicating with others. If you are polite, it is more likely that the person will want to continue communicating with you and get to know you better.
These four points are basic stepping stones to beginning and maintaining any conversation. Believe in yourself, do not over-communicate and remember that there is always a necessity for politeness and manners. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to having more effective and meaningful conversations and business relationships.
I recently attended a business lunch at a restaurant that I had not visited in several months. On arrival, I was greeted by the waiters and manager at the door and was then shown to my table. Once I was seated, the waiter handed me a menu and immediately asked me what I would like to drink. Seeing that I had just sat down, I decided to take a few minutes to make the decision. General greetings and exchanging of handshakes took place and within two minutes of having been seated, I was asked once again what it was that I wanted to drink.
The topic I would like to discuss concentrates on the communication norms and blunders that are often experienced within the restaurant industry.
The general etiquette and level of communication that I have experienced in certain restaurants is not of a commendable, or even acceptable, level from a customer service and communication perspective. Of course, it is silly of anyone to expect perfection because nothing and no-one is ever perfect. However, when a restaurant is not exceedingly busy; there are waiters standing, gnawing on their fingernails and staring into space; and a manager is having a lengthy chat with a customer, this creates cause for customers to complain.
Once receiving my beverage, within roughly two to five minutes of making the order, I was immediately asked what it was that I wanted to order for lunch rather than the waiter asking politely if I was ready to order and if i would like to have heard the specials for the day. The waiter also did not grasp the fact that a discussion had begun and that it should not have been interrupted. Nevertheless, we all placed our orders with the waiter and the discussion and meeting continued, thinking that we would be free from interruptions for at least 10 minutes until the food arrived. This was not the case. The waiter returned to our table five minutes later explaining that one of the orders was not available today and a different choice of food should be made. The new order was placed and the waiter finally allowed the meeting to continue.
I find it hard to believe that the chef did not know that there was a problem with the food before we made the order. This is one area where, from a communication perspective, a problem could have been avoided. What should have taken place was, once the chef knew that there was a problem with the food or that there was a shortage of the food, the waiter should have been notified. This would minimize the probability of customers getting annoyed, calling the manager, complaining about service and going so far as causing the restaurant to lose business.
General etiquette and people skills must always be improved on! Of course, if a business deal is being done around a restaurant table, there will be interruptions. However, the amount of interruptions and annoyances should be reduced to a minimum. This can only take place if the manager makes an effort to provide the waiters with the correct training. It is critical that the manager fosters exemplary teamwork between the "front-of-house" and kitchen staff.
Communication is a two way street. It does not work when both listen and when both speak at the same time. The idea is to have a listener, a speaker and the the final message should be reinforced. In a restaurant, communication, both verbal and non-verbal is vital. These skills have to be mastered and this can only be achieved through effective training and active participation of ALL restaurant staff.
Attending a job interview can be quite nerve wracking. This process can either make or break the person involved. The process can sometimes be long and frustrating and you really have to have a very thick skin in order to withstand all the personal and uncomfortable questions that you will be asked. Self preparation is very important and often many people who find themselves working through this process find it tough to prepare themselves correctly and as much as possible. Many times you hear of an interviewee attending the meeting and they may arrive late or behave inappropriately. For example, the person may constantly play with pimples on their face or even answer a phone call during the meeting. Here are a few easy tips on how to behave and communicate correctly during an interview.
Firstly, it is very important to remember that you are attending a job interview. You are the person who is looking for the job and therefore it is important that you act accordingly. Do not beg for a job and make sure that you behave in a manner that is appropriate and adequate for the purpose of the interview. This means that under no circumstance is it appropriate or acceptable for you to arrive late for an interview unless you make contact with the interviewer, at least 3 hours or even a day prior to your job interview. Once arriving at the premises, be seated and look relaxed and confident. Make sure you have the required information with you, if there is any and always carry a piece of paper or notebook and a pen with you. Do not leave the pen in your shirt pocket in case the pen leaks through your shirt. Make certain you turn your cellular phone off completely and make sure this is done prior to entering the interview room! On being called by the interviewer, stand up straight and tall. Look proud and confident and in a normal pace move toward the interviewer. Shake the persons hand and when doing this make sure you look into the persons eyes and say thank you to the person for agreeing to see you.
A second point to remember is that it is imperative that when you arrive at the premises, you are dressed appropriately. If the company wears overalls then it is acceptable for you to attend the interview in casual to smart clothing. If you are allowed to wear jeans to the interview, then make sure they are smart and not broken. It is always better to arrive for an interview in smart clothing. This shows pride in oneself and good breeding. Do not arrive wearing shorts, flops, very short skirts, dirty or broken clothing, or underwear showing.
The third point that should be considered is for you to enjoy the interview. If you are offered a drink, do not be shy to accept. If you truly do not want a drink then very politely say no thank you. It is essential that politeness and manners are always remembered! This aspect I find is the most important thing that must be included into every conversation. It makes no difference who you meet and speak to, but always remember to show respect and be polite. Manners shows good upbringing, it it shows that you have respect and you know how to treat another person in a caring and decent manner. This is obviously very important in the working world and will help you go very far in life. A please and thank you goes a long way in every situation.
On being seated, do not slouch or lie all over the chair or couch. Sit upright and make sure you always smile, as this makes the interviewer more relaxed and he or she can see that you are enjoying being in the environment and that you are confident with yourself. Slouching implies that you are lazy and respect for people and situations is not quite there. You need to outwardly appear calm, cool, collected, happy, confident, proud and of course ready to take the proverbial "bull by the horns" and begin working!
Body language is just as important as what we say during interviews, if not more so. Be sure to remember to not fold your arms or legs. This shows the interviewer that you are closing yourself off. Always look the interviewer in the eyes and not down or around the room. Concentrate on the person and show your confidence. Do not make funny noises or animal sounds; Do not play with your face or pick your nose and do not fidget. Remain composed throughout the entire meeting.
During the interview, remember to answer questions honestly, to the best of your ability and give short, concise answers. Do not waffle! Be clear, concise and to the point. Try not to answer too many questions with yes or no answers and at the same time do not volunteer too much information. Again, it is very important that you remain calm and allow yourself sufficient time to think of an appropriate answer to questions. Of course pre-interview preparation is needed, but there may be a few questions that you did not think of so when this takes place during the interview, listen, think carefully about the question and only then deliver a suitable answer.
On ending the job interview, thank the person again, however, this time it will be for taking the time to meet with you. Do not be nervous to ask when you can expect a telephone call regarding moving forward or an idea of "where to from here". Shake the interviewers hand again and extend your warm wishes for them to have a wonderful day. Sometimes, the interviewer will kindly walk out with you and see you to the exit. This can assist you in creating an additional and lasting impression on the interviewer. However, if the interviewer does not see you to the front door, calmly and confidently leave the room in a composed manner.
All that has been discussed above are recommendations for a better job interview to take place. It is important to be yourself and remember that if you are meant to get the job, then you will. It does not mean though that you must not try your best and that you must do nothing to motivate for you to get the job there and then. Make the effort and positive results will come out of the hard work that you put in.
I am certain that at some stage you have received one of "those" calls. The question is, in what manner are we dealing with them?
When training and exercising one's voice, I always encourage my clients to not scream, shout or strain their vocal chords in any way. Obviously, it is easier to remember this aspect during the voice training session. However, to remember this aspect and many others at all times, becomes tough especially when you are new at voice training.
Usually, when receiving these unwanted calls, it becomes difficult to put yourself in the shoes of the caller. We usually scream, slam the phone down, verbally abuse, lie or use any other negative phrases in order to discontinue the conversation. However, what is actually taking place is not just creating and developing extra unnecessary negativity - we are not communicating effectively. There are a few basic, though important rules and guidelines of communicating effectively with another.
Firstly and most importantly, always be true to yourself and do not speak with ego. In other words, do not get yourself unnecessarily angry or worked up. The more tense and worked up the body and mind is, the more difficult it becomes to find the correct words to use and for the words to exit your mouth without hurting yourself. This aspect therefore leads me to my next point that fire always fuels the fire. If you are angry or answer the caller in an angry tone, this just creates more anger, abuse and negativity, which then leads to a battle of egos and an even greater fight. If one is controlled and relaxed, it becomes easier to say a simple "Thank you for calling but I do not require this service". These are the words that should be on your lips each time you receive an unwanted call. Another important aspect to remember is BREATHE! concentrate on what the caller is saying and trying to sell, breathe during the process and forget about your anger and how nasty you can possibly be. Instead of answering in the worst possible way, allow yourself a moment to breathe, relax, listen to what the person is saying to you, think of a decent response that serves both of you and then deliver the answer and lastly do not shout or strain your voice!
I realise that this is easier said than done. It takes practice and most of all self control. Imagine you have a continuum where the middle is zero or a neutral position. On either side of the zero you have a minus ten being very relaxed and ten refers to an irate or a very excited person. You need to always be on the zero or neutral mark. This shows your ability to control your thoughts, verbal and non-verbal communication and your ability to sway the caller in a calmer and more neutral position. It may seem more fun to rant and rave so that the person puts the phone down on you. Just remember that the person is just doing his or her job and does not deserve to be spoken to badly or in a negative tone. Not only are you developing a negative impression of yourself, but you are also potentially straining and damaging your voice.
Your pitch, instead of being to high or low, needs to be at a middle level. The power within your voice should not be exerted, although your voice needs to sound firm, fair and always decent. Pause at times in order to create an effect. Remember that the person also needs to have time to understand what you are telling him or her. The rate at which you speak can also positively or negatively affect a person's view of you. For example, imagine you receive a phone call from a person selling a cellular phone package. The pace at which the person speaks to you is so quick that you can hardly understand what is being said. Usually, you would ask the person to repeat the phrase, put the phone down or immediately tell the person in a very abrupt tone that you are not interested and to never call you again. You are therefore bombarded by these quick words and sentences and the fact that someone is trying to sell you something that you become very overwhelmed and just burst. Instead of doing this, which is counter productive, decently ask the person to either repeat what the person said or make a joke about the fast paced speech. This then relaxes the situation and the person will probably repeat what he or she said, but with a slower pace. The last section we will analyse is inflection. This focuses on the gentle rise and fall of the voice within the pitch. I like to compare this to the vibrato often used by singers. Be sure to add some inflection into your voice, but once you over-inflect your voice, it becomes unbearable for a person to listen to.
In short, relax, breathe, be yourself. Remember that you are your own brand and image and through your actions and the manner in which you speak and address others, you can either positively or negatively impact this image. Always speak clearly and be kind to others as you will always be rewarded in return in one way or another.
As a follow up from my recent post, today's blog will deal with how we change our communication in terms of what we say and how, in order to fit in with the culture of a company and to suit the client's needs and requirements. According to George Bernard Shaw, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." Communication is the manner in which we create a true connection with each other and it assists us in relaying messages to each other on a constant basis. However, communication must be kept pure and genuine in order for others to understand and follow through with the messages and conversation.
In this fast paced life that we all currently live in, filled with different forms of communication, genuine or face to face communication tends to take the back seat. As an example, Twitter is one of the main social media platforms used today. Some may use this application in order to create friendships, gain information regarding world events, dating and business. Obviously the application has many advantages, however, the downside is that communication is lost in translation. The true essence of a person and what the person is feeling and trying to express is lost and masked by shorthand and abbreviated gobbledygook.
Teachers constantly complain about the fact that pupils are unable to spell, communicate correctly, misuse certain words etc. and these problems are usually blamed on social media - Twitter, MXiT, other chat lines, Facebook, SMS and much more. It should rather be encouraged that teachers learn how to utilize the above mentioned social sites properly and be creative in the way that the problems are incorporated into the school curriculum. In other words they should research these sites properly in order to create a lesson based on factual knowledge and then apply the different problems so that children understand where mistakes are made, how to correct themselves and the difference in the way the words are written on the various sites.
In the working and business world, each person is required to be equipped with the correct communication tools in addition to having a knowledge of various social media sites. Equip the children from a very young age and when they reach the working world they will be able to apply this knowledge. Communication is an essential tool in every fact of life. Without having the basis of correct communication, it becomes challenging to not only assist a person in improving this, but it becomes frustrating to communicate with these people.
Tarzan the ape-man was only able to communicate with wild animals that lived in the jungle and it was only once he met and was taught English and correct etiquette by Jane that he was able to enter into civilization for a while, although he largely rejected it and returned to the wild to experience its adventures. Those who have not been provided with the correct tools and taught how to communicate correctly are at an obvious disadvantage and although they are not literally referred to as apes and wild animals, they will unfortunately remain as an inferior group and will struggle to fit into society just as Tarzan did.
Once the basic level has been covered correctly and mastered, this group will be able to feel more integrated in society. Providing someone with the correct tools and education is a lifelong privilege. However, the manner in which this education is then applied by the student can either be a curse or gift. Do not be concerned about the manner in which the student applies the knowledge. What remains important and as quoted by Anthony Robbins "The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."
Michelle is a speech and communication specialist working with companies and individuals in South Africa and internationally.