Thursday, May 3, 2012

Habits to shake off before your interviews

In high school, one of my closest friends had an upcoming interview with the mayor of Tampa. It was going to be filmed and broadcast on television. Weeks prior to the interview, she asked everyone to "beep" every time she said "like". It got annoying pretty fast.

To this day, she is the most eloquent speaker I know. I think it also has to do with another characteristic of hers shown in this story: she actively sought to recognize and fix her flaws.

In public speaking, I learned that how you speak is just as crucial as what you say. Easy small changes to make you sound as intelligent as you really are at the interviews:

1. Stop raising your voice at the end.
This is how I tend to speak! In high school, a college representative asked me if I was from California. I took this as a bad sign thinking I sounded like your typical valley girl.
2. Pause instead of using space fillers like “um”, “like”, “you know”.
3. Talk slower.You can get your point across effectively while slowing down. Listen to Diane Rehm. When I get nervous, I speak faster and mumble up my words. So take your time and say things you mean instead of rambling until you find yourself asking “where am I going with this point?”

Has anyone else recognized an annoying speech habit and could not focus on anything else the person was saying? This is why I could not watch those Orange County reality shows (watch this instead).

You can try recording yourself and listening to how you speak. I used to leave video posts on my friends’ Facebook walls and whenever I watched them again I was fascinated by how different I sounded.

If you do, you can also note the pronouns you use which provides insightful information on: your compatibility with others, self-consciousness, confidence, sociability among others. (Check out Dr. J. Pennebaker’s Online Research Consortium- take a few surveys to find out about yourself and contribute to the growing database. I just spent half an hour writing short stories to be analyzed.)

Start now so that you incorporate these speaking habits naturally. Speaking clearly and eloquently is important not just for your upcoming interviews.