27 Mar Be Prepared Before You Speak to a Group
Here are 10 important questions to ask before the business presentation process. These 10 questions relate to listener analysis, and therefore, your needs:
- Why am I speaking to these listeners?
- Why are they listening?
- What relationship do we have?
- What relationship do listener members have with each other?
- What do they know about this topic?
- What would they like to know?
- How will they use this information?
- What are they doing the day before I speak?
- What will they be doing the day after?
- What are the logistics of the event?
This last one, logistics, is often overlooked. What do you need to know about the speaking situation before you speak? Answers to the following questions will help you to gather information. Add additional items to fit your particular situation.
- Where will I be speaking?
- What time of day will I speak?
- How long will I be speaking?
- Who is speaking before and after me, and on what topics?
- Will there be a moderator? Will I be introduced?
- What is the size of the room?
- How will the seating be arranged?
- Will the setting be interactive? Will it be formal or informal?
- What audiovisual equipment do I need? Will a technician be available on site?
- What are the lighting and temperature of the room?
- How far in advance may I check out the room before speaking?
The information you gather from all these questions will make preparing a speech much easier. Additionally, if your listeners understand that your research has helped you tailor your preparation specifically for them, they will be more likely to respond positively.
7 Mar Thinking on Your Feet
Thinking on your feet, also known as being quick-witted or spontaneous, is important in many situations, such as public speaking, negotiations, impromptu speeches, or spontaneous debates. Here are some tips to help you develop your ability to think on your feet:
- Be Prepared: Preparation is vital to success. The more you know about a topic, the more equipped you are to handle unexpected questions or challenges. Read up on current events and familiarize yourself with key facts and figures related to your area of expertise. Be open to learning, unlearning, and relearning.
- Practice Active Listening: Pay close attention to what others are saying, and respond thoughtfully and deliberately. Listen to understand, not to give a response or argue. Avoid interrupting others, and try to understand their point of view before responding.
- Stay Calm: When under pressure, it can be easy to become disoriented, flustered, or intimidated. However, the ability to remain calm and focused is imperative to being able to think on your feet. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are well prepared.
- Be Confident: Confidence is a critical component of thinking on your feet. Believe in yourself and your ability to handle whatever comes your way. Try to project a sense of self-assurance, even if you are feeling nervous.
- Use Humor: Humor is a powerful tool for disarming tense situations and keeping the conversation light. Use humor to answer difficult questions, diffuse escalations or complex situations, and keep the audience engaged and focused.
- Stay Flexible: Be prepared to pivot and change direction when necessary. Be open to new ideas and perspectives, and be willing to adjust your approach if the situation warrants it.
- Stay Focused: Avoid diverting or bogged down on irrelevant details. Stay focused on the main topic and avoid getting sidetracked by tangential issues.
- Keep it Simple: When thinking on your feet, it’s essential to keep your responses clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or complex language, and try to make your points in a way that is easy for others to comprehend.
In conclusion, thinking on your feet requires a combination of preparation, active listening, confidence, humor, flexibility, focus, and simplicity. With practice and persistence, you can develop these skills and become a confident, quick-witted communicator.
16 Feb How to Prepare for a Big Four Partner Interview
A partner interview is part of the recruitment strategy for the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms in the US, (PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young) and is the last stage in what can often be a lengthy recruitment process.
The purpose of the partner interview is to make sure the candidate is a good fit for the company. There may be some preset questions – and usually a short presentation – but the interview itself is mainly reactive, based on the speaker’s comments, and at times can feel adversarial or combative.The key to a successful partner interview is preparation. For this reason, this article will focus on one specific area of mastery within the partner interview: the Question and Answer segment.
Knowing the likely styles of questions that will come up and preparing practical answers with a speech coach will help you prepare and come across as a confident, polished expert. Almost all of the companies will combine standard interview questions with behavioral and competency questions.
Here are three strategies on how to best prepare for the partner interview Question and Answer portion:
1. Prepare it, then let it go. It’s important to note that preparing for an interview does not mean trying to remember the answer to every possible question that may ask you. While a speaker may formally make notes in advance, and prepare answers with the key talking points, you should not plan to reference the notes in the interview, (even if you are virtual and could sneak them onto your monitor without anyone knowing). Your research and preparation will ensure that you have a set of adaptable answers that you can alter for anything that might come up.
2. Brainstorm the questions you expect to get, and the questions you hope are NOT asked. Below are examples of questions you might be asked at a partner interview:
- With the current [latest world event here, such as a new President or global health crisis], how do you see your market changing?
- Tell us a first in the door example.
- What is your point of view on where the account needs to focus on continuing its growth trajectory?
- How has the [latest topical event or challenge] impacted your market and how you sell and deliver to clients?
And as mentioned above, plan for the questions you hope are NOT asked, which will be personal and unique to you, such as:
- What are our most significant challenges with [topic you feel uncomfortable addressing], and how would you recommend we address them?
- What are your thoughts on the future strategy of our business?
- What do you see as our most significant talent challenges, and how would you address them?
- Tell me about a time you got it wrong.
3. Create a plan to handle nervousness. Despite this being the final interview in the process, it doesn’t have to be the most nerve-wracking. The company has seen something in you, so be confident, open, relaxed, and personable. Simple ways to demonstrate confidence include being aware of your nonverbal communication, (such as fidgeting), having a warm smile when appropriate, and speaking with clear and concise language.
One final thought – we often say as Executive Communication Coaches at The Speech Improvement Company – your amount of preparation should match the level of importance. I’d place a Big Four partner interview at a high level of importance. It’s always better to over-prepare than to under-prepare, especially when it comes to interviews.
We regularly help our clients thrive in partner interviews for the Big Four. Let us know if you’d like to talk about how we can help you with your upcoming high stakes interview.
7 Feb How to be a Dynamic Panelist
Are you a panelist or moderator at an upcoming conference?
Watch this short video by Executive Communication Coach Melody Elkin and learn how to be a dynamic panelist.
16 Jan MLK – Changing the World Through Speech
Martin Luther King is known as the greatest orator in modern times– a man whose words and style created profound social change. Though few of us will transform society, we can elevate our professional world through the way we speak.
Here are three lessons: (more…)