Ban­ish your pub­lic speak­ing nerves for good

In­ter­views and pub­lic speak­ing re­quire con­fi­dence – but there are some tricks to mak­ing your­self heard

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS - WORDS JENNY SOUTHAN

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”

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