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Speaking tricks that’ll help you talk your way to a new opportunity

In a world where it’s who you know, not what you know, networking is key. Whether it’s a client meeting, a social event, or a two-hour flight, there are opportunities everywhere to expand your contact list. But are you ready to grab them? Being able to deliver your message confidently and succinctly is key to getting your foot in the door. Workable’s step-by-step guide shows you ways to improve your speaking skills to talk your way to a new job.

Speaking tricks that'll help you talk your way to a new job

How to approach different situations

As mentioned earlier, opportunities to advertise oneself present themselves daily in various situations. Although it’s good to be confident, certain scenarios require more tact than others. The approach you take can easily make or break your connection so tread carefully. Here’s how you handle the following situations:

  • An interview with a potential employer

In this case, both parties are aware of each other’s intentions so you can walk in with a confident attitude. Your advantage here is that you can prepare what you’re going to say by researching typical interview questions for the position you’re applying for. Practice the key things you want to say in advance to prevent the ums and ahs that distract from the importance of your message. At the same time, try not to sound too scripted as this could come across as inauthentic.

  • A networking event

Again, the participants here know the deal, so mentioning some of your career highlights in a natural way during a conversation won’t necessarily result in an awkward silence. However, timing matters in this situation. Walking up to a large group and loudly voicing your opinion will put a halt to the conversation that can be hard to recover from. If you remain quiet and listen for a few moments before joining the discussion, you will fit more seamlessly into the group. 

  • A career chat with someone with whom you share a mutual friend

A one-on-one conversation with a virtual stranger can be intimidating but the key here is to keep the conversation casual at first before getting into the reason for the meeting. Show genuine interest in your companion’s career and work experience by asking pertinent questions. While you may be there to tap into their insider information, don’t overwhelm them with questions that could turn an interview into an interrogation. You’re trying to add this person to your network so don’t sever the connection by asking for a job. If you present yourself in an impressionable way, they’ll volunteer to put your name forward for you.

  • A chance meeting

You’ve settled on the train with a good book when you happen to glance at the person sitting opposite you in your compartment. It’s none other than the CEO of a leading company in your industry. This opportunity is too good to pass up. But how can you approach them without being pushy?  

There are a couple of approaches you can take. The standard “Hi Ms/Mr. X, my name is…” might work if the person has a reputation for being open and friendly. Alternatively, you can find some common ground. Whether it’s voicing admiration for the book they’re reading or the bag they’re holding, you can open up an entire conversation from this simple starting point. If all else fails, offer to share your snacks. No one says no to snacks.

Strategies to improve your speaking skills

So you’ve made it to the face-to-face, now how do you sell yourself? With the exception of the chance encounter, you can prepare what you’re going to say in advance. However, while you may be using all the right words, your delivery heavily influences the response you’ll receive. Here are a few tips on how to talk professionally in an interview:

  • Do your research

If you know what you’re talking about, it immediately adds an air of authority to your speech. When you speak confidently, your listeners will take notice. Plus, the data you collect shows that you have a keen interest in the subject matter – this is a great way to demonstrate your passion for the job.

  • Shoot a video

Once you’ve gathered your talking points, record yourself answering interview questions. Assess yourself on how clear and self-assured you sound and if there are things you do that could be distracting. These could include excessive touching of your hair or face or drumming your fingers on the table.

  • Check your body language

The 7-38-55 rule states that only 7% of communication is made up of verbal interaction with 38% covering tone and 55% being dominated by body language. While a few nervous gestures can be overlooked, actions like slouching and an inability to make eye contact could be viewed as a lack of confidence.

  • Breathe and smile

The interview process can be overwhelming. Some people are struck speechless while others can’t stop talking. If you’re prone to either of these situations, practice taking deep breaths to center yourself. When you’re ready to continue, put a smile on your face. People automatically warm to friendly faces and will be more attentive to you.

  • Grow a thick skin

It’s impossible for everyone to like you. Prepare yourself for rejection by choosing not to dwell on it or take it personally. Once you’ve achieved this, you’ll exude a confidence that dares anything to bring you down. Taking chances without fear of failing will see an abundance of opportunities coming your way.

Final thoughts

Never knowing who you may encounter, keep a stack of business cards in your pocket and an elevator pitch ready to go. This 40-second speech should briefly state who you are, what you currently do, and what your aspirations are. Combine these with our tips to improve your speaking skills and you’ll be sure to land that job.

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