Don’t let public speaking scare you this season

Two new classes at New York’s 92Y begin soon, just in time for Halloween and beyond.  Become aware of your body and the role it plays in good public speaking on October 18. And, if you miss Halloween, join our pre-Thanksgiving two-session course on how to sound better and improve your speaking voice  beginning November 8.    Learn more about my course offerings, find new ways to stay in touch, and get more information on private one-on-one and small group sessions by contacting me at publicspeaking4u@aol.com.  Or visit my web sites, http://publicspeaking4u.com/ or http://kundellcommunications.com/public-speaking/

Happy Halloween!

How Public Speaking Can Help Your Career

Credit- Studio Tdes, The Daily English Show
Credit- Studio Tdes, The Daily English Show

Ace That Job Interview or New Business Pitch

Whether you’re an employee looking to further your career,  an entrepreneur or a business executive targeting new clients, there is nothing like a job interview or a new business pitch to put your communications skills to the test.  How you come across to a potential employer or client can be as important– if not more important– as your business ­­­skills themselves.

Employers and clients not only look for your skill set; they want to know your personality.  And, sometimes it just comes down to the chemistry between you and the interviewer(s).

It’s understandable if you have the jitters when it comes time for the job interview or business presentation.  After all, it’s important to your career and to your business growth.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for that big job interview or business pitch.

Before the Interview

  • Expect to be nervous. It’s only natural when there is something at stake.  So,  expect some amount of nervousness.  Go with the flow, and accept that your nervousness may be excitement and anticipation, rather than fear and dread.  And remember that the interviewer has as much at stake as you do, in hiring the right person for the right job.
  • Carry yourself confidently. How you carry yourself is as important as the clothes you wear for that interview or presentation.  Look in the mirror and view yourself both standing up and sitting down.  Remember that first impressions count, so the way you enter a room for that first introduction or handshake is important.  When sitting down, remember to sit up straight, but not stiff.  Practice your stance beforehand. Notice your interviewer’s  body language, and take a cue from that.  If they are sitting erect, do so.  If they tend to lean forward, you may want to slightly do so as well.
  • Be prepared. Anticipate questions your potential employer or client might ask.  Rehearse your answers in advance.  According to Career Coach, Vivian Van Lier, “be clear about your unique value or personal brand to a prospective employer or client.  Know what differentiates you from your competition.”
  • Rehearse your answers. Be sure you are comfortable with your responses in advance of the interview.   There is no substitute for advance practice.

On the spotSpeaking for Interviews_You're Hired speech bubble

You’re prepared for your upcoming job or new business interview.  You’ve reviewed anticipated questions, rehearsed your answers, and are aware that, when the actual time comes,  you may be a little nervous.  That’s only natural.

You’re aware of the value you can bring to the new company or client, and you know how to carry yourself with poise.  Here are some additional pointers to help you through that big interview.

  • Breathe deeply. Practice taking deep breaths when yourehearse your answers, and before you begin speaking at the actual interview or presentation.    Breathing deeply helps you relax, helps slow down that beating heart rate, and also helps improve voice quality.
  • Don’t race your words. When people are nervous or excited, there is often a tendency to speak fast. This signals, “I want to get it over with.”  Unless you have been allotted a specific time frame for your interview or presentation, take your time.  You will sound more authoritative, and in control.
  • Be energetic and enthusiastic. But don’t overdo it.  Too much enthusiasm could signal that you’re desperate for the job.
  • Let your personality shine through. Be your real and genuine self; and not who you think the interviewer or potential client is looking for.  If the fit is there, it will come through.  If the chemistry isn’t there, know that it wasn’t meant to be, and that there will be other opportunities.

It’s all about having a conversation between you and your prospective employer or client.  If you can relax and enjoy it, so will those on the other end.  And, who knows, it may be the job or client of a lifetime!

Top Speaking Skills for Interviews, Part I

Credit- Studio Tdes, The Daily English Show
Credit- Studio Tdes, The Daily English Show

Communications Skills for Job Hunting and New Business Success

Whether you’re an employee looking to further your career,  an entrepreneur or a business executive targeting new clients, there is nothing like a job interview or a new business pitch to put your communications skills to the test.  How you come across to a potential employer or client can be as important– if not more important– as your business ­­­skills themselves.

Employers and clients not only look for your skill set; they want to know your personality.  And, sometimes it just comes down to the chemistry between you and the interviewer(s).

It’s understandable if you have the jitters when it comes time for the job interview or business presentation.  After all, it’s important to your career and to your business growth.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for that big job interview or business pitch.

  • Expect to be nervous. It’s only natural when there is something at stake.  So,  expect some amount of nervousness.  Go with the flow, and accept that your nervousness may be excitement and anticipation, rather than fear and dread.  And remember that the interviewer has as much at stake as you do, in hiring the right person for the right job.
  • Carry yourself confidently. How you carry yourself is as important as the clothes you wear for that interview or presentation.  Look in the mirror and view yourself both standing up and sitting down.  Remember that first impressions count, so the way you enter a room for that first introduction or handshake is important.  When sitting down, remember to sit up straight, but not stiff.  Practice your stance beforehand. Notice your interviewer’s  body language, and take a cue from that.  If they are sitting erect, do so.  If they tend to lean forward, you may want to slightly do so as well.
  • Be prepared. Anticipate questions your potential employer or client might ask.  Rehearse your answers in advance.  According to Career Coach, Vivian Van Lier, “be clear about your unique value or personal brand to a prospective employer or client.  Know what differentiates you from your competition.”
  • Rehearse your answers. Be sure you are comfortable with your responses in advance of the interview.   There is no substitute for advance practice.

New Year, New You

Do your own self-assessment

Hand WritingThis year, resolve to speak better and with more purpose. Start by writing down your 3 major strengths.  Then write down 3 major weaknesses.

Don’t let the negative overwhelm you. Divide and conquer: Choose one area of weakness to work on at a time. E.g. speaking too fast, managing nervousness, projecting better, presenting more effectively, organizing your thoughts. Then chart your progress.

Over the years, I’ve asked my public speaking clients about their major strengths and weaknesses. Here’s an overview of some of the most common self-assessed strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths Weaknesses
1. Knowledge of the subject 1. Nervousness
2. Articulate 2. Shaky or weak voice
3.  Good voice 3. Anxiety
4. Energy 4. Body language
  5. Poor delivery
  6. Lack of organization, losing train of thought

Is Perfection Killing your Public Speaking?

Speech Bubble_oopsIn one of my public speaking classes we had a spirited discussion about In one of my public speaking classes we had a spirited discussion about perfectionism and how the quest to be perfect can derail your public speaking.

One student reported that she was so nervous after stumbling on a word – which was basically inaudible to most present – that she fixated on that one moment for the rest of her presentation. That’s not unusual. Another expressed disappointment with herself because she was nervous in her final presentation. Yet another student said he was haunted by the prospect that he couldn’t live up to his family’s lofty expectations for him.  perfectionism and how the quest to be perfect can derail your public speaking.

What did they all have in common? The quest for the perfect can lead us to magnify our mistakes in our mind. It can also lead to closing up for fear that you’ll make a mistake or be less than perfect.

Perfection is rarely human, and sometimes we set the bar for ourselves too high. We have to meet unrealistic expectations, and, in doing so, set ourselves up for failure. To paraphrase Samuel Beckett, “Fail. Then fail better.”

Don’t hold back; rather, punch through the barriers you’ve set for yourself. If you stumble on a word momentarily, don’t let it be a roadblock on your path to good public speaking. Like a little pebble in a path, kick it aside and continue on. Resist the urge to fixate on it and turn it into an insurmountable boulder. Your audience will have long forgotten about it, and most of all, will usually appreciate you for having that most treasured of qualities: fallibility.

What does Opera have to do with Public Speaking?


Martina Arroyo
Martina Arroyo

I recently attended a master class  for young opera singers with famed singer Martina Arroyo, at Hunter College in New York City.  Ms. Arroyo constantly stressed the importance of knowing who the character is, the motive behind actions, where the action takes place, and more.  She also focused on  the importance of being  prepared and immersed in the moment before you  get up on stage.

What does this have to do with public speaking?  Just like a good performer, a public speaker needs to have stage presence.   Know the context of your presentation.  Think about your words, what you want to convey,  and how you want to move your audience.  Have a sense of yourself, who  you are and why you’re up on that stage, whether it’s an interview, a panel or PowerPoint presentation, or a speech to a large or small audience.

Our “Techniques for Effective Public Speaking”  can help you translate the qualities of a great performer into a great presentation of your own.  For more information contact us or visit www.publicspeaking4u.com.

The Importance of a Coach

I was inspired to write this post by a  tweet from a fellow public speaking trainer.  Speakers often forget how important it is to have a coach.  Even if you’re an experienced speaker, a fresh set of well-trained eyes and ears can often catch things you, a family member, or a colleague might overlook.  And for anyone trying to improve their skills, a coach can help lead the way.

Is your tone of voice right?  Are you speaking too fast?  Is the content right?  Can you add interest by changing a word here or there?  How is your posture?  Is the presentation too long?  A coach can help with these and many other aspects of presenting. 

Consider: Even the best athletes use coaches to perfect their skills.  Actors constantly hone their technique and review their parts with acting coachings, dancers are constantly in training, and even the best singers regularly visit vocal coaches. 

Today there are executive coaches and career coaches to help take your business to the next level; there are even life coaches for people looking to improve the quality of their life.   So, if you’re looking to improve your speaking and presentation skills–whether it’s a new business PowerPoint presentation, a speech at a large conference, a sales pitch to a small group of investors — consider the benefits of a good coach.