How To Use Public Speaking To Nail Your Next Interview

Two men shaking hands with only arms visible

Introduction

“I can’t believe it happened again”.

“I’ve been working at the same company for years, but every time the perfect position to get promoted comes along: I get pipped at the interview stage”. 

“It wouldn’t be so bad if they chose someone more qualified, more capable, or even more likeable. But it’s always the chancer or the brown nose”.

I’ve heard these words spoken by many of my clients.

People come to me when they have an interview and tell me to help them come across as more likeable, credible, or even more intelligent.

It’s not about a lack of capability, likeability, or another certificate hanging on your wall. 

What you lack is the skill of interviewing and the tool that will help you develop this skill is Public Speaking.

What stands between you and your next promotion is not what lies between your ears, but what comes out of your mouth. 

No interviewer cares that you know how to manage a department of 60 people, or that you saved the company one million unless you can articulate why they should care. 

In this post, I’ll explain the reason why public speaking is your express train to get a promotion or pitch for a higher salary.

You will learn how to use your Personal Brand to gain trust and how you can use your natural ability to tell stories to win over those gatekeepers to your rightful rise to the top.

 

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Why Public Speaking?

You might be wondering why Public Speaking will help you to nail your next interview.

 

When you think of Public Speaking it might conjure images of a TED Talk or an overly expressive activist on a soapbox at Speakers Corner.

 

Public Speaking can be many things, but most importantly we can use Marriam-Webster’s definition:

 

“Public Speaking is the art of effective oral communication with an audience”.

 

That’s it. It’s as simple as that.

Public Speaking isn’t about delivering a keynote speech to thousands of people. 

 

It can be you telling a story to a few friends in a cafe, or convincing a senior member of staff that they should give you the job over Brown Nose Charlie.

 

So, when you have an interview, don’t think of it as an interview to get a promotion, but as an opportunity to deliver some short and powerful speeches to your audience.

 

The following 3 pointers will turn your interview from a bumbling mess into a rousing arrest.

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Build Your Personal Brand

Just like any good branded product you would buy at the shops, you have a Personal Brand. 

Your Personal Brand is what sets you apart from your competition when interviewing for a job or when negotiating a salary increase. 

 

It’s your way of saying ‘I am different; here’s how’. 

 

If you haven’t thought about your Personal Brand before, you’ve likely developed an accidental one. 

 

Can you imagine if Nike or Coca Cola had developed an accidental brand? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

 

To be successful, a brand needs to be thoroughly thought out and well delivered. 

 

The easiest way for you to own your Personal Brand is to become an expert in your field.

 

I read a book a while back called Make Yourself A Little Bit Famous by Penny Haslam. 

 

Penny recommends that you become an expert in a niche area of what you do and make yourself known as the go-to person. 

 

If you work in Wellbeing and you want to develop a specialism then maybe you choose a focus in Meditation for Mental Health. 

 

From that point on, you focus solely on Meditation for Mental Health and research that particular area. 

 

Find tweets, videos, and blog posts that relate to your area of expertise and don’t stray too far unless you are linking back to your main specialism.

 

Comment on posts, share them and draw conclusions, or go against the grain and make a counter-argument. 

 

In doing this you will receive questions, likes, shares, and more importantly, you might raise some objections. 

 

You must learn to hold your ground as an expert in your field if you want to get promoted.

 

Stephen Hawking was told his work was ‘outrageous’ when he formulated his theory about black holes and pitched it to his contemporaries.

 

By asserting yourself as an expert on a regular basis, you will develop the ability to ‘roll with the punches’ and you will become known as both an expert and a warrior in your field. You might even earn a catchy title like the Wellbeing Warrior, which can then be used as part of your branding even in a workplace setting. 

 

You will also start to hone your focus on the jobs you want to interview for, or work you want to pitch for if you’re a freelancer. 

 

This will give you the added benefit of applying for roles that you are highly qualified for and a subject that you will have had countless debates about. 

 

When you have your Personal Brand in check it’s time to develop your vocal skills. Because, every interview needs one voice that stands out from the rest.

Maintain Your Voice

One of the biggest problems I see interviewees make is to wait until the day of the interview to start speaking. 

I know people who have spent hundreds of hours preparing for an interview: researching the company, learning their behaviours, and thinking up exciting examples of how they’ve made a difference. 

But then, the interview arrives and they can’t get their words out. 

If you want to use Public Speaking to get promoted you have to use your voice.

Your voice is like a vehicle. If the engine is not running continuously, it will seize up and break down.

Practising your examples out aloud to someone else who will give you honest feedback is vital. 

When we write a report or book, we write it to be read. When you write for an interview or speech of any kind, you should write it to be said

Only by saying your examples out loud to an audience, even if it’s just for one person, will help you to get a better feel for how your answers are coming across. 

Watch Question Time on BBC any time you have a chance and see how politicians deal with answering questions on the spot. 

They seem to be able to give a thorough and well thought out answer in real-time to a challenging and often sneaky question. 

This is no accident. 

Politicians are trained to continually practice their answers to ensure they sound well researched, articulate, and authentic. 

It can’t be denied that politicians can give buttery smooth responses under pressure, no matter how authentic you think they are. 

Take their lead and practice out loud as much as you can. 

In my post on how to Speed Up Your SpeechWriting, I give tips on how to “riff before you write”. 

Riffing isn’t just for musicians. You can use it for both Public Speaking and interviews too. 

So, remember to keep speaking aloud in the build-up to your interview, and if you want to take this to the next level just keep practising every day anyway. 

Read a Shakespeare monologue aloud to yourself or say a few tongue twisters to keep your vocal cords loose and ready to help you shine.

When your voice is primed and ready it’s time to use it by telling stories.

Tell A Story

Storytelling seems to have become a real buzzword in business these days. 

Some people wrongly think that storytelling is all about being fluffy or softening your hard approach. 

This is simply not true. 

Storytelling isn’t for making children go to sleep, it’s for keeping adults awake.

Your ability to tell a story in an interview is what will make you remembered. 

There is a common belief that all interview answers should follow the STAR interview model is the best structure for interview answers. 

STAR is an acronym that breaks down into:

  • Situation – set the context;
  • Task – explain the challenge;
  • Action – say what you did;
  • Result – explain the outcome.

Other people believe that the SHARE model is more effective:

  • Situation – set the context;
  • Hindrances – explain the challenges;
  • Action – say what you did;
  • Results – explain the outcome;
  • Evaluate – show an evaluation of how things turned out.

Whichever model you choose, understand this: every interview model is just a structure for storytelling.

An example from a galaxy far far away

Think back to any film you have seen or novel you have read. 

The main character will go through similar steps.

Since we’re talking about the STAR model, let’s use one of my favourite characters as an example: Luke Skywalker. 

In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker finds himself in a situation where the Empire has killed his family. 

His task means he must leave his home planet to stay safe. 

He takes action by joining the rebellion and helping to coordinate an attack on the Death Star.

The result is the destruction of the Death Star and a huge dent in the Empire’s forces. 

A example from my own life

I would advise to not use this particular story in your interview 😉 but here’s an example of something you might use when asked a question about being a team player. 

Situation

“I saw that my sales team had been in the bottom half of the leaderboard for the last two months and I could feel the morale was dropping significantly. Nobody seemed to be getting on with each other and hardly anyone spoke as we hammered the phones for some sales. We desperately wanted to avoid the gaze of our manager Gareth”.

Task

“I had to change things or we were all going to get the chop. My own sales weren’t bad at all but as an aggregate we were falling well behind. I knew that if we could just get that competitive element back, that banter, and the reason we all became sales people, we could easily climb out of this hole”. 

Action

“As I wasn’t the leader of the team I didn’t want to be too pushy, so I gave some lighthearted little pep talks to everyone in a humorous way to begin and put everyone at ease. I also started to send round little motivational quotes every day and challenged everyone to find a better one, or cheesier one than I could. 

Hardly anyone responded at first, but over time the team started to enjoy the silly pep talks and some of the rest of the team even started to give their own pep talks. Everyone was sending their own motivational quotes to the team now and we even started going for lunch together again”. 

Result

“It took a while, but as we started to have fun together we started to project that positivity on our sales calls. I feel that the customers felt this and we started to build really strong rapport with everyone we spoke to. 

It only took a month for us to be back in a position where we were out of the bottom half of the rankings, and other team leaders were asking what we were doing that was making out sales so effective. 

That was a year ago and these days we still have the little pep talks, and send round the motivational quotes whether we are having bad days or good days.

More importantly, we are the top performing team every month. 

If you want to change the culture of a team you can’t change too many things too quickly. You need to do it little by little, but those tiny changes can lead to a huge result”. 

The example I just gave is a true story and one I would repeat if I was in a similar situation. 

Depending on the interview, you might need to be more detailed with the pounds and pennies or give some technical information, but all interviews essentially rely on the same STAR formula. 

Don’t feel as though you need to babble on for hours about the ins and outs of the role you did. Bring that role to life through storytelling, but try to keep your examples to this galaxy where possible ;).

Where To Next?

Now that you have the three essential steps to use Public Speaking to get a Promotion you should start putting them into practice straight away. 

Avoid the urge to put off developing these skills until the interview is looming. 

Start to develop your Personal Brand right away by finding interesting articles and making your voice known or sharing those articles with your social networks and colleagues. 

Warm-up your voice daily just like you warm-up your muscles.

Finally, become a solid storyteller by using the favoured approach to interview structure. 

If you combine all three of these techniques you will nail your next interview with Public Speaking and get the promotion you deserve.

Practice At Our Presentation Clinic

If you have an interview coming up, why not practice one or two of your stories at our Presentation Clinic? 

Our Presentation Clinics are pop-up events where you can deliver a short speech and get some real-time advice from our three in house experts. 

Until then, I wish you the best with nailing your next interview.

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How To Use Public Speaking To Nail Your Next Interview

Danny Riley

A corporate trainer, award-winning speaker, TEDx Speaker coach, and Distinguished Toastmaster. Danny designs and delivers Leadership Development Programmes as well as coaching professional speakers. He is a Chartered Manager, a member of the CIPD, and dedicates his life to developing executives who want to deliver more persuasive pitches and presentations.
How To Use Public Speaking To Nail Your Next Interview
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