Sunday, 16 February 2014

7 Tips To Ace Your Next Interview

Hi all,

After last week's tips on how to improve your career through great communication, I thought I would share 7 tips on how  to gun that interview.

1. Do your research. You need to know heaps about the company. Be sure to check out the website. If you can, ring up and speak to someone who can give you even more insight into the company. The more you know, the more you can slip in things to let the interviewer(s) know you have got to know their policies etc.

2 Anticipate all the questions and practice answering them. You need a friend to role play this one. or me. It's no use just going through them in your head. You really do need to say them and get feedback.

3 Keep answers short and add an illustration. Go to the bottom line. Do not waffle, but then add an example or case study to make your answer real. Think of a story that is relevant to the question.

4 Look at everyone in the room. Do not just answer to the person who is asking the questions. That person may not be the decision maker. Look at all of them. Give one point to each person.

5 Have A QUESTION FOR THEM. Just a question about the job they have not asked that is your strength. Or even when they will let you know. Do not ask about pay at the first interview.

6 Dress appropriately. I know, obvious. But it is important to find out about the dress code and match it Of course, make sure shoes are clean and no stains anywhere.

7 Smile and shake hands with everyone. First impressions count. Make sure you look and sound confident all the way through. Remember 70% of your communication will be non verbal.

One more tip. If you really cannot answer a question, do not fluff. Say that you have been caught out and will find out. They probably know the right answer. Don't be afraid to show a little vulnerability and modesty. Most interviewees do not lie a smart ass!

Till next time,

Judith  Direct Speech
I specialise in interview preparation and my next mini course starts March 3rd in Elsternwick.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

How public speaking can improve your career

Hi All,

So, you have a job. You are doing okay. You are earning. But you would like to be promoted. You would like to speak up at meetings more. You want people to listen to you. You would like to deal with a few difficult people at work. Or speak to the boss. Even ask for a promotion? Follow the tips below. Some of them are sure to help you be more successful in your career.

1 Be a great listener. That may sound surprising. If you want to be a great communicator (speaker), you need to listen to what others, especially important people at work are saying. Let them know you listened. Mention to them that you heard their idea and like it (if you do) and say why. You may want to ask them more about their idea and help them implement it. That is great communication. Also, repeat an instruction to make sure you have it right.

2 When you do speak up, say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep your messages simple and clear and uncluttered. Great communicators do not waste words. Make a point in a meeting or in a presentation and illustrate it. Then move on. Don't waffle.

3 Change your formality and tone slightly, depending on who you are talking to. Although we should treat everyone equally, we should be a bit more formal when addressing senior staff and a bit more informal when addressing peers. You probably do this anyway, without noticing it. However, you can make it more deliberate and it can help you establish the correct hierarchy (if there is one) in your work environment. It is important to get these tones and nuances right, and appropriate forms of address do not go unnoticed. Generally avoid jargon unless all the people you are talking to understand it.

4 In meetings, to gain power, stand up to make a presentation. Have the excuse of a Power Point or chart that you need to explain. If you talk while standing it gives you more presence and power in the room. Likewise,in meetings, look at the whole group. Many people only look at the chairperson. Look at each of the members.  They will appreciate it. Use READY. Aim. FIRE to deliver notes so you are looking at the others when talking.

5 Volunteer to make a formal presentation on behalf of the company. That will get you really noticed as most people do not like to present. Practise as if you are in front of the real audience. Anticipate the questions you will be asked and practise the answers, looking at the whole room.

If you are not quite confident enough, attend one of my mini courses. The next one starts Monday 3rd March, 7pm and is just three sessions and you will improve heaps.

Why not ask me a specific question about how to move ahead in your career regarding communication!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

7 Oral Presentation Tips For Students

Hi all,

Today I'm focusing on you students who need to prepare orals in the next weeks and days. You may need to present for five minutes or longer to your peers or to a couple of assessors. The mark will count towards your results. So if you want to really succeed, follow these seven useful tips.

The majority of these orals will be based on an issue in the Australian media since Sept 1, 2013. So, look for one that excites you. Some of the issues that have grabbed my attention include: the compulsory immunisation of babies, the recent drinking laws in NSW. to restrict violence in the CBD, our boat policy, teen binge drinking, the East West link, drugs in sport, the number of women in government and who received honours on Australia Day, schoolies, violence on the streets, depression, raising the drinking age to 21 and cyber bullying. There are lots more, but those are some that would also interest the class and engage them and the teacher (s).

Direct Speech tips

1 Choose an issue that does interest and even excite you. The enthusiasm will be transferred to the class and teachers, because you will sound as if you care. You need to be passionate, but not melo-dramatic

2 Research it well and find arguments on both sides (or even more). You will support your side and refute the other side, but you need to show complexity.Make sure yo quote from the media.

3 Start with something interesting. Do not say," Hi, my name is... and I'm going to persuade you that...." Or "A recent issue in the media is..."  D B Dead Boring!  Start with a quote, a story, a statistic, some rhetorical questions, something the class (and teacher) can relate to

4 Make your structure clear. Summarise your points after the introduction. Make your topic sentences explicit and follow up with strong evidence and refute. Remember the seven best forms of evidence? Statistics, anecdote, analogy, quotes, precedence, logic and scenario. (If you need elaboration on these, go back to my blog on them.). Make sure you signal and signpost, especially the conclusion.

5 Rehearse about thirteen times, as if you are in front of the class and your assessor. You must look and sound confident. If you are allowed notes, have them hole punched and tied together. Only hold them in one hand so you can make natural hand gestures and so they do not get out of order.And tell yourself you are a great speaker!

6 Work on your body language and voice variety. They carry 90% of your message. Make sure you do not rush the oral. Speak at 120 word per minute. Pause for emphasis and breath. Look at your audience the whole time you speak. When you do make gestures, make them definite and clear. Otherwise, hands by your sides, relaxed. Smile, unless it is a serious issue. Make sure you know how to pronounce all the words. Use some humour, if appropriate. Use simple, clear words, metaphors and alliteration as well as rhyme (where useful).

7 Get my help. Enrol in my next course which is Melbourne on the evenings of 3rd, 10th and 17th March. Send me an email to or, if your oral is later in the semester, have me come out to your school and help all your level do really well.

Finally, although these oral presentations will be part of your assessment, remember, speaking confidently, is a very important skill for life. As I have said in school presentations, you get the job. You get the chick or the guy. You get a life!

Good luck. Check out previous blogs of mine for more details on words, body language, voice, handling nerves and let me know if these seven tips helped.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

What;s going on in your head when you speak?

Hi all,
Today I am focusing on the voice in the head and how it can help you or hinder you when you speak.

Are you aware of the voice? What is it saying to you? Do you listen to it? If it is saying anything negative, especially about what the audience may be thinking about you, it is likely to put you off what you are saying. Some people even go blank.

Now if this is you, you are likely to be more nervous and self conscious than you need to be. If, on the other hand, you focus on what you want to share with them, instead of what they are thinking of you, you are likely to remember everything and sound and look very natural.

Indeed, the way to harness the voice in your head, positively, the way to do it is to accept that  you are an expert or at least more knowledgeable than most of the people in the room. You should be. Either you have been asked to speak on that topic or you have practised until you do sound and look confident.

The other thing that can muck up the voice in the head is the thought of questions. This fear can be overcome by anticipating what you will be asked and practising answering the questions. You can even ask a colleague to ask you what you might be asked and to get that person to listen to your answers.If you really do get a question you cannot answer, don't fluff. Just say you will get back to them and get their details.

Finally the voice in your head can also be your friend. If you keep telling yourself that you like speaking publicly, and you practise heaps (13 times, as if you are in the venue), your voice in the head can be your friend. Focus on what the audience has come to hear and not what they may be thinking of you, and your speech will be successful.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The Power of the pause

Happy New Year to all of you,
Today I am focusing on the power of the pause. The main reason I am doing this is because most nervous or inexperienced speakers do not pause enough or use the pause to their advantage.They often just want to get the speech over with and cannot see that their audience is missing some or even all of their message as it is being too fast for them to take in.

We already know, from previous blogs that you need to speak at about 120 words per minute. Today, I want to point out when, why and how to pause for effect. The main thing is to pause long enough for your audience to take in what you are saying. Also, pause  long enough to allow you to breathe. Also, if you need to look at your notes, that is a great time to pause.

If you pause between points for about three seconds, your audience will realise that you are moving onto another point. Although you will signal and signpost this shift by telling   them that you are making another point or changing focus.

The main advantage of pausing is that it makes your audience sit up and listen. Why have you stopped? What is next? What are you doing? You could be looking at your notes, changing a slide or pausing for effect. What ever your reason, if t is deliberate and well timed, it will enhance your presentation.

So, do not be afraid of pauses. They are helpful. They give your audience time to take in what you have said, to think about what you have said, to picture the images you have painted. It may seem a long time to you. But the more you do it, the easier it will become and you will even enjoy the moments of since you have created.