This affliction extends to my ability to speak smoothly off the cuff. The words never come out of my mouth the way they are arranged in my head unless I do some advanced planning.
I always admire people who can speak contemporaneously. My daughter specialized in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking in High School Speech and Debate. She appeared to be able to argue about anything at a drop of the hat during a debate. But it was all a charade. She had boxes and boxes of research on various topics. She practiced speaking out loud for hours on those topics, taking different points of view, and testing which gestures and emphasis made the best impression. Not spontaneous or extemporaneous at all. But she sure sounded great during a debate!
Joan Rivers is my favorite comedian these days. I love her reality TV show, “Joan Knows Best” because we get to watch her work. She has a file cabinet filled with jokes on index cards. She picks specific jokes for specific situations in a specific order then practices till she gets the nuance right. It all sounds so spontaneous. But it is not.
That is what I need to do. When I prepare for an interview or for a speaking engagement or even for an important telephone conversation with a potential client, I write down what I want to say. What is the point I am trying to make? How can I make that point smoothly and succinctly without blathering all over about nonsense? Without the words tumbling out of my mouth in no particular order at all while my mind moves at 100mph.
An interview is a scripted, strategic event. You have a point to make. You want the interviewer to know and see certain aspects of yourself. How can you or anyone go into an interview cold and be confident that what comes out of your mouth makes the points you want to make spontaneously? It won’t happen without preparation.
Here are some tips for advanced planning an interview:
- Consider what you are likely to be asked. Know the main objectives and responsibilities for the job. What questions could be asked to ascertain whether you can do that job? What are the most frequently asked questions?
- Prepare responses to those questions. In writing. In detail.
- Edit your potential responses until the words sound good and support your strategic goals.
- Now you rehearse. Say your responses out loud until the words come out smoothly. No stammering. No stuttering. You have to sound like you believe what you are saying. If you don’t believe it then why will anyone else!
- Adjust your proposed responses in writing until the words flow smoothly out of your mouth.
- Have someone quiz you. Just like preparing for that spelling test in third grade, it really helps when a real person asks you a question and you give your prepared response. Then get feedback. How did it sound? Did you sound believable and confident? If not, keep working until it does.
Just like a world famous comedian, you can sound confident and smooth by preparing your responses ahead of time and practicing. Practice, practice, practice until it appears that you can talk and think at the same time!