Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A major portion of this piece was first published in 2011. It's importance remains and it is worth repeating. 

Extemporaneous delivery is probably worth as much time as you can afford to spend on the project. By extemporaneous we mean you know what you are going to say and you have the content well in mind. You have organized the data appropriately for your listeners and when the time comes for you to speak, you choose your words while you are speaking.

Aristotle thought that between content and delivery, delivery was not nearly as important. Demosthenes on the other hand felt that delivery is critical. Personally I think that excellent content excellently delivered should be the goal. In life, you will most often be asked to speak on things about which you are well informed. Your biggest problem will be matching the audience to you and your topic. That will guide you in what to include, while you are narrowing your topic. Then the order in which you have been most successful talking to others about the topic.

Task: establish a central idea and type it across a blank page in your word processor, and save it to your desktop. Whenever you think of something that should be included in your presentation, open the document and add it. As potential main ideas occur to you, add them. As supportive material occurs to you, add them under the appropriate main idea. Out of this will grow your fairly detailed outline.

Practice: examine your materials, adjust them to fit you, your audience and the occasion. Let the rough outline sit for a time and then go over your materials and set a final version of the outline. Use that outline to build the visual materials (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.) you will need to clearly make your points. Remember, the more ways you can simultaneously say a thing the easier it will be for your audience to understand and retain what you are saying. Remember, in the "real" world you will be asked to say to a large group, things you have already been saying to individuals and small groups. You have practiced/rehearsed  your speech. More practice won't hurt and will help.

Delivery: get to your location early, setup and test everything. Once you stand up and begin, realize that there is nothing more you can do to prepare. Your only concern now is that the audience will understand and be able to recall and use what you are saying. It isn't important that you be perfect in appearance or delivery. . .only that the audience understands, can recall and use your content. You are at this point more like a missionary than anything else: only concerned about the audience.

Afterwards: what kinds of questions are asked? What might you have done to make clearer what you were trying to say. Make notes and then make repairs, because it is likely that you'll be asked to do this again fairly soon.

Don't forget to make available leave behinds. Don't pass them out before or during your presentation. Be certain that your contact information is clearly part of the leave behind. 

At this point, your contact information becomes the shortest route to getting that raise you so richly deserve. Remember, you wouldn't have been asked to make the presentation had you not been a recognizable expert in the area.  If during and after the presentation there are those who would like to have you working with/for them, the contact information will be needed by them to reach you.  You are not under any obligation to change employers, but should it be desirable from your point of view you may be given the opportunity.  

Stage Fright: Some help

To some degree stage fright is probably in all of us when we attempt to stand up, speak and make sense. The larger the audience often the greater the fright.  But, there are things that we can do to survive stage fright and thrive.  Mikael Cho has discussed this problem clearly and effectively.  It is worth your time.  The article is entitled "How to cure stage fright: the science behind public speaking."

That  sounds really unlikely to any of us who have fought with stage fright.  But, the approach will be useful when put into practice.  The article is great for those thinking of taking or currently enrolled in a public address class.  More importantly, we never stop learning and we are always facing situations that we wish had never come along.  For example, your boss wants you to bring everyone up to date on what the company is doing in your area. This article will greatly aid you to overcome the problem.  So you will have stage fright, but instead of dying on stage, you will survive and eventually thrive.

Cho point out what most of us already think: "Genetics play a huge role in how strong your feelings of anxiety are in social situations. For instance, even though John Lennon performed on stage thousands of times, he was known for throwing up before going on stage for his live performances.

"Some people are simply genetically wired to feel more scared when performing or speaking in public."  But, even that can be taken into account and leave you free to communicate when you need/want to.

Don't stop improving.  There's a great deal you can do and it really is important to you since success often expects us to do things that at the moment we can't do.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The Real Reason New College Grads Can't Get Hired

In our current economy more education is important for getting hired.  But, there are skills that you can develop that will improve your chances of getting hired.  They have to do with things such as "soft skills" according to Martha White in an article on the"The Real Reason New College Grads Can't Get Hired" for Time Magazine.

"A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well."

White went on saying, "As much as academics go on about the lack of math and science skills, bosses are more concerned with organizational and interpersonal proficiency. The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top 10 priorities in new hires. Overwhelmingly, they want candidates who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work. Technical and computer-related know-how placed much further down the list."

Even if you have graduated, don't stop learning about how to integrate yourself into the business you are working for or hope to work for.  Working in groups and being part of effective teams is very important to business owners and they are looking for employees that can use those "soft skills" to increase the effectiveness of their business. I'm not suggesting that you ignore learning other skills for which you have great interest and ability.  Rather I'm suggesting that you pick up "soft skills" along the way to increase the probability of your success.
(This first was published in 2013)