Impromptu speaking for fun and profit
Do you fear interviews and always seem to come off as tongue-tied? It can be painful.
Your palms go wet. There’s butterflies. You find yourself grasping at how to answer a question – not just answer it, but give the right answer.
If this sounds like you then I have an exercise that will help you overcome the nervousness. Try this:
Have someone feed you a subject or question. You have to answer the question or talk about the subject for 1 minute – the whole minute. And it has to be in the form of an introduction, a body and close (just like we learned in the fourth grade).
It doesn’t matter if you know anything about the subject (many times you won’t). The objective here is to respond. Take a few seconds to get your thoughts in order, then tell a story, give a history lesson or just talk about what you don’t know about the subject.
Pay attention to your answers. Try to eliminate speech fillers like ‘um,’ ‘like’ and ‘you know’ from your answer. We use these fillers to fill the gaps in our speech and buy time for our brains to give us the next thing to say. Used occasionally, it might be overlooked. Used more than once or twice and your listeners will begin to notice. (Want to have some fun? Take one day and count all the ‘ums’ you hear, no matter who uses it. You’ll be appalled.)
When you are able to answer a given subject you know nothing about with a coherent and cogent response, you’ll be able to answer any question you do know about with confidence.
Questions like “Tell me about yourself,” and “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness” will no longer present issues for you. You’ll even be ready for odd-ball questions like, “If you were a tree (animal, appliance, etc) what would you be and why?” You will be unflappable.
However, all of this is for naught unless you correctly practice. I specifically used a one-minute time for a reason. Most questions and follow-ups in an interview can be answered in one minute. That time limit forces you to consider the main points you want to make and it also forces you to leave out the rest.
Make a game of it. See who can come up with the most unusual subject. Have someone ask you to defend a position you solidly oppose. Have someone feed you a difficult interview question with maybe a follow-up.
Have fun. The exercise will help build your confidence and your mental acuity.
The results? You will indicate to the interviewer that you are deliberate, well versed and well-spoken. Rare traits these days.