I am a huge fan of rehearsing for pretty much everything – job interviews, tough conversations with a co-worker or boss and pitching for a pay rise.
People often worry that by rehearsing they will sound, well, rehearsed. Not so. Rehearsing what you will say and how you will say it actually provides you with greater latitude to improvise. Here’s how:
Calming your nerves
Working out the main points you want to cover in a job interview or meeting ahead of time is a great way to ease nerves. By wrestling the worst of your nerves to the mat before the big day or moment you can focus on what is being said and really listen to the other person to ensure you answer the questions being asked.
Creating a repository of information to draw from
A while back I researched and wrote a cover story for a science magazine on the psychology of survival in the event of a disaster. I interviewed many experts who all agreed that in an emergency, our survival depends on being able to retrieve information already stored in our memories rather than create it for the first time on the spot. This is the reason emergency service workers and defense force personnel train the way they do – by rehearsing. While not a life or death situation, successfully pitching for that pay rise or promotion could well rely on you being able to retrieve facts and figures to back your claims particularly when challenged.
Being 100% present in the conversation
The better prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you appear. You can speak more slowly, breath and really listen. Job interviews work best when they are an exchange of views and questions and that takes being 100% present in the conversation.
Room to move
Rehearsing gets a lot of thinking out of the way. With all that wonderful information stored, you will have more room to move, think and react – even tell a few stories rather than just giving answers. People – and hiring managers – are more likely to remember you if you are able to tell a story about an achievement or how you handled a past challenge rather than just talk about how you would handle a situation in the future.
Ironing out the wrinkles
I encourage people to rehearse with a friend, family member or work-related contact so they can ask for feedback on a range of important items. These include the speed of your speech, eye contact, body language, quality of answers and any nervous ticks. Do you look away when answering a question? Or fidget? Answer with only a crisp “yes” or “no”? Or talk yourself in circles? Ironing out these wrinkles by rehearsing is a must if you want to protect your personal brand.
Kate Southam has been giving people advice on careers for 13 years. She has been the editor of a career website, author of a syndicated newspaper column and remains a regular blogger. She also continues to coach individuals as well as provide commentary on careers and workplace issues to TV, radio and magazines. Kate is also a communications consultant advising businesses. Follow Kate on Twitter @KateSoutham.