Wednesday, August 19, 2009

30 Second Pitch!

CNN is doing a segment on their website, www. called the 30-second pitch. It finds people who are out of work and puts them on film pitching themselves to perspective employers. The hostess is sunny and enthusiastically supportive of the courage the out of work individuals display. However, as I watched, I was struck by how much more effective these pitches would be if CNN had given each person a little coaching about the way they presented themselves.

I heard people dropping their energy and volume at the ends of sentences which made them sound like they were already totally defeated. I saw people whose grooming left a lot to be desired. People whose eye-contact wasn't connecting, even though they were talking to an impartial camera. But most of all... the pitches themselves, for the large part, sounded like pleading. A one note chorus of "hire me, please cause I'm out of work and I need a job"

When I coach interview skills, I like to have people express themselves more like... "Hire me because I can really help your bottom line" Let's face it, most people, employers especially, what to know "What's in it for Them" What do I get out of hiring you. I found many of the stories about the out of work 30-second pitchers on compelling and I really hope this exposure helps them find work. I just wish that CNN would have maximized their effectiveness by giving them a few tips before putting them on camera.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Break Through!!

I'm teaching a continuing education class on business presentations right now at a local college. I have some really dedicated and wonderful students. The other night, two of my students had mini breakthroughs - nothing thrills me more! It made me wonder what creates a breakthrough. I asked one of my students and he said something like, after repeatedly getting up in front of the room doing the exercises I provided and struggling over and over with the same issues he just thought 'I can do this differently'!
I'm not getting his exact words correctly and to be honest, there really was no way for him to even communicate what he had done but all of us in the room got it. There's a time when you just get tired of being insane - doing the same thing over and over expecting different results - and you think, hey, maybe I should try doing things a different way!!! That's when you have a breakthrough. I love breakthroughs. What we also realized in class is that without repeatedly putting yourself out there, or up there in his case, you won't be able to have those breakthroughs. It's when you get tired of acting insanely that the breakthroughs come!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nonviolent Communication

Why is it sometimes so hard to understand why people say or do what they do?

I've been reading about and studying Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for a few years. I'm taking a course right at now. It's a wonderful way to approach communication but it's not easy by any means. NVC teaches that all humans have basic universal needs (Connection, honesty, peace, play, physical well-being, meaning & autonomy) and all the actions we take are based on trying to get those needs met. Our feelings are the result of whether these needs are met or unmet.

Of course the interesting part is that even though we all share the same needs, we often use different strategies & take different actions to get those needs met. I believe that's one reason why it's so difficult to understand each other. A simple example: To get the basic need of nourishment met, some of us may choose to munch on a delicious fruit or salad and then experience feelings of satisfaction and happiness. We've met our need for food (physical well-being) But someone else with the same need for food might chow down on a jelly donut and fries. and they too may feel really happy and satisfied afterwards. Same need, different strategy for filling it. The donut eater may also have had a need for fun or spontaneity. And the fruit eater may have been filling a need for integrity. The difficult part comes in when the fruit eater meets the donut eater and feels intense judgement about the strategy he/she employed to get their needs met.

Nonviolent communication teaches us ways to communicate with each other as well as with ourselves so that we feel a connection even though we may not agree with the strategy employed. Do any of you have experience with NVC? If not check it out.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Speak Up but Don't Up Speak!

You know what upspeak is, right? It's that maddening speech pattern that has reached epidemic proportions - the habit of ending every sentence as though it were a question? I'm not sure where or when it started? It may have had its roots in Valley Girl speak? but it's now safe to say that upspeaking has left the Valley and spread far and wide? Even my clients who have learned English as a second language have fallen victim to it?

Upspeaking is problematic for two reasons; mainly because it makes the speaker sound as though he/she is not sure about the validity of what it is they just said. It makes them sound as though they are asking the listener for permission to make the statement they just made. For professionals it's even more problematic because it makes the speaker sound very unsure of themselves which does not instill confidence in the listener. If you are not sure of what you're telling me, how can I be sure of you. So remember, Speak up but don't Up speak!

Let me know your thoughts and issues with upspeaking.