Public speaking can mean all sorts of things. It’s not just on a stage in front of a big audience. If you think about it, a job interview is a form of public speaking too. Even if it is just an audience of one or a small panel of interviewers.
Thinking about your next interview as a public speaking event might not make you feel better about it but stay with us for a minute. For some, speaking in front of people is as anxiety inducing as the fear of heights or contemplating death. It is SCARY!
So are interviews. But they don’t have to be.
How is Public Speaking like a Job Interview?
Picture being in a stadium for an olympic relay event. The runners are lined up. The crowd is cheering. The atmosphere is charged with anticipation and emotion. Everyone is on the edge of the their seats waiting for the gun to go off and the race to start.
It’s palpable. You can feel the energy. Your heart is racing.
On your mark. Get set. GO!
What if all the runners, instead of taking off like streaks of lightning, stopped, stood up straight, and all started waving at the audience and thanking them for coming? That would be weird, right? The anticipation of the event would drop like a lead weight. We would all plop back in our chairs a bit disappointed wondering what is going on.
The same thing happens in public speaking when the speaker is introduced and then he or she starts off by thanking the person, thanking the audience, and talking about their background. The anticipation of the speaker and the build-up was lost with the thank you’s and the platitudes. It’s nice to thank people. But save it for the end.
Really effective and seasoned public speakers know that it is important to build upon the anticipation that is already there and grab the audience’s attention right from the beginning. They use it to their advantage.
A Great Example
Amy Zander, owner of the marketing agency, Zeedia Media, and professional public speaker has this to say about public speaking. “I like to come in hot with an obscure question or random fact to get people thinking. A topic I often talk about is the importance of content and blogging in marketing. I might start by saying, ‘Does anyone know how many blog posts are published every day on the internet? It’s (here I make up some big number.)’ People usually gasp. Then I follow it up with, ‘Also, 72.6 % of statistics are made up on the spot. I really have no idea how many posts are published, but it’s a lot, so yours have to be amazing.’ This gets a laugh and then we are off to the races talking about what makes for a really great blog post.”
You can do this too in an interview.
How do you start your interview?
We aren’t suggesting that you throw some random made-up stat at the interviewer and startle him or her. But you can start off enthusiastically with a comment about why you are happy to be there.
Here are some examples:
“I’m so happy to be here. I’ve been looking forward to meeting with you since this was set up and I have so much I want to learn about your company.”
“This opportunity means a lot to me. I am very interested in learning <X, Y, or Z> while I am here.”
“I have been following the trend in <insert relevant industry trend> and I am eager to find out more about how your company is executing this.”
“I know your company is a leader in <insert info> and I want to learn more. I feel like my experience in <insert here> could contribute to your growth.”
Do you see how these types of sentences are full of energy and excitement? They demonstrate that you really want to be there. You are engaged. You have come prepared.
This is a much more memorable way to start an interview than a quick handshake and “Thank you for having me.”
Side note: Be sure to thank the interview at the end for their time and consideration. Follow-up with all the usual interviewing good practices.
How are you going to start your next interview? With a starter pistol or a snooze button? Practice today and land the job tomorrow.
Happy Career Hunting! We are here for you!
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