Banish your public speaking nerves for good
Interviews and public speaking require confidence – but there are some tricks to making yourself heard
When preparing for an important job interview, have you been told to “just be yourself ”? Or when feeling nervous about speaking in front of strangers, tried that trick of imagining everyone in the room naked? You’re right – they’re useless bits of advice. Like it or not, you now have to be masters of self-branding and self-promotion. If you can’t sell yourself and your ideas, there’s a good chance your career will not advance in the way you’d like it to.
There are many courses and workshops that help you become a better communicator in the business world. Top courses include leadership training from Impellus (impellus.com), and management skills for emerging leaders at Harvard (extension.harvard.edu). There are also some great books, such as Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo and the classic The Quick and Easy Way to
Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie. The skills needed for presentation are not dissimilar to those for job interviews.
TALK THE TALK
When it comes to getting a “yes” at your next critical meeting – be it a job interview, raising finance or getting a counterparty to agree to a merger – there is one particular training programme, Rehearse It (rehearseit.co.uk), that claims a success rate of more than
90 per cent. It offers oneday workshops, pitching rehearsal sessions and one-on-one coaching from founder Robin Roberts and his team of actors, and film and theatre directors.
“An interview is analogous to an audition. It’s key that individuals learn how to take control of the situation in order to deliver their best possible performance,” says Roberts.
Since launching two years ago, the organisation has worked with more than 120 people, many of them extremely high-powered – from European Union commissioners to senior judges and chief executives. Why do they need help? “By nature they are perfectionists and are going for something they don’t want to risk not getting,” says Roberts. The curriculum covers psychology, body language and role play. Roberts founded Rehearse It after retiring from a long career at global headhunting firm Egon Zehnder. He says: “While there, I noticed that even the world’s most senior people mess up their meetings and interviews – including people who were candidates to be chairmen of FTSE 100 companies. It made me wonder why we can screw up critical meetings.”
How does it work? “Rehearse It is a combination of behavioural science and performing arts, which we guarantee will improve your performance dramatically,” he says. “It’s not a drama class, though. We are not training people in our workshops to be Daniel Craig or Cate Blanchett. We are saying, look, in this critical moment when you are in front of an audience, doing these things will nudge opinion in your favour.”
How quickly do you think strangers form an opinion about you? In a minute? A few seconds? Roberts says: “The most common mistake is not to realise how quickly the judgement is formed. It’s actually milliseconds. Our brains have evolved to collect data about other people really fast.” This means that not only do first impressions count, but you have far less time to present yourself than you thought.
At what point does the interviewer typically make a decision about whether you are right for the job or not? Roberts says: “There is research that shows that all the
“We are not training people in our workshops to be Daniel Craig or Cate Blanchett”