Most articles about improving the way presentations are delivered focus on body language and content. Body language accounts for an amazing 55% of the impact you have when talking or presenting to people; what you say or show, only 7%. The remaining 38% of your impact comes from the way you speak.

If you are heading to an assessment centre, doing a presentation may be one of the tasks on the table, or if you’re about to start a new job – congratulations by the way – presenting is a key skill that you will probably be required to use in some capacity throughout your career. So it’s worth focussing on this rarely considered aspect of presentation skills.

The three things you should consider when thinking about the way you speak are:
• Volume
• Speed
• Pitch and tone

1. Your volume
You need to make sure you’re speaking loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear. There’s nothing more irritating for an audience than a mumbler. A microphone may do this job for you, but if you don’t have one simply ask: “can everyone hear me ok?” Look around the room and make eye contact with as many people as you can as you ask.

Do this confidently and with a smile to boost your own confidence and engage with your audience. It’s important to get the volume right at the beginning so you won’t get distracted or interrupted once your presentation is flowing and it gives you a chance to hear your own voice before you really get going.

When you want to add emphasis to a given point it’s a good idea to increase your volume slightly, while making eye contact with various people around the room.

2. Your speed
Never speak too quickly. It shows you are nervous; it will mean you are more likely to make mistakes and it is less likely the audience will understand what you are saying.

It’s always faster to other people’s ears than it is in your head – so think ‘slow’. Pause just before you’re about to make an important or complicated point and just after to give your audience time to engage with and digest what you’re saying.

3. Your pitch and tone
Avoid a monotone voice at all costs. People lose interest very quickly without a song in their ears. Varying the pitch and tone keeps people’s brains engaged.

Reading from a script increases your chances of presenting in a monotone. So try to do your presentation from notes, rather than a script. If you have to read it, practice varying your pitch in an exaggerated way as if you’re reading a scary or exciting child’s story. Don’t deliver your presentation like that, however, just get used to hearing that range in your voice.

Using either genuine or rhetorical questions will help keep the flow of your speech varied, which will keep the audience engaged.

Enunciate clearly and don’t mumble into your notes.

Regardless of how nervous or self-conscious you may feel speaking in public if you can think ‘confident’ and match your body language and voice accordingly no one will ever know, and you will have an engaged and attentive audience.

Never forget how important your voice is – practice out loud, playing with volume, pitch, speed and tone, and record yourself to look for the areas in which you can improve.

Reference: Abintegro News

Making sense of our strengths, weaknesses, skills and our instinctive feelings about them can help us define our personal brand and guide our career choices. But how do we even start making sense of them?

Strengths based interviews these days ask what are you good at? And what do you enjoy? This would suggest that a strength can be ascertained from a positive response to both these questions. But what’s the difference between a strength and a skill, and what happens to those areas that you’re good at, but don’t like or vice versa.

A skill is an ability, which can be gained from knowledge and practice as well as aptitude, and can be objectively measured. If you are proficient in a given area you can claim it as one of your skills; if you’re really good at something, i.e. you generally find it easy AND you really enjoy it even when the challenges come along, if it gives you that buzz then it’s a strength.

Once you’ve got your head around that here are five ways to categorise your strengths and skills:

1. Prime Strengths
If a strength is also important to your role or potential role then it becomes a ‘Prime Strength’. These are the abilities you should be focusing on, developing and highlighting at every opportunity.

2. Untapped Strengths.
But what if some of your strengths aren’t important to the role in question? Well providing they genuinely could add value in a working context these strengths represent your potential. Your ‘Untapped Strengths’ could help you to reshape a current role or change your career direction, and along with your ‘Prime Strengths’ they present a picture of you at your best.

Once we lose either the enjoyment or the proficiency factor they are no longer strengths, but how do we label them?

3. Necessary Skills.
A ‘Necessary Skill’ is important to your role and you’re good at it, but you don’t enjoy it. Everyone has them at work: reconciling spreadsheets, proofreading documents, doing research, fixing bugs, dealing with customers – of course one person’s necessary skill may be another person’s strength – it’s very personal. However, a necessary skill could become a strength if you can find a way to enjoy it more – perhaps through truly recognising your ability. Or perhaps it should remain a ‘bonus’ skill – not something you highlight as a core strength, but it could help you clinch a new job, role, responsibility or project.

4. Underdeveloped Skills
If you enjoy doing something that’s important to your role but you’re not particularly good at it then that it is an opportunity for development. Your enthusiasm could turn ‘Underdeveloped Skills’ into strengths through a willingness to practice. Or perhaps they should simply remain in your ‘I’ll have a go’ pile.

5. Weaknesses
Those skills that you neither like nor are good at, but are important to your role fall into your ‘Weaknesses’ pot. Proactively developing proficiency in these skills may lead to enjoyment of them and as such they could ultimately become a strength. However, it’s important to accept that there are some things that you’re not so good at. Really qualify their importance to the role in question and consider whether this is truly the direction your career should be taking.

Historically strengths have been defined as something you are naturally good at, but sometimes it is not until you have practiced something a few times or found the right teacher that you discover you have strength in that area. So don’t develop a fixed mindset about your strengths OR your weaknesses.

Spend time thinking about your skills and strengths because categorising them can help you to more clearly define your working role and your career direction, to celebrate what you are good at, accept the things you are not and appreciate others for their strengths in your areas of weakness.

Reference: Abintegro News

With the dust still to settle on the UK’s momentous EU referendum, the media is already doom-mongering as to what Brexit will mean for employment in the country going forward.

With businesses putting the breaks on hiring, graduates entering the job market for the first time are likely to be particularly vulnerable. The same can be said for those thinking about returning to work after an absence, or overseas professionals moving to the UK.

There’s no reason to give up on that dream job just yet, however. Here are our top tips for job hunting, Brexit style.

1. Get out in front
With competition for roles likely to intensify, it’s important to give yourself as much of a head start on the chasing pack as possible. That includes making sure your application materials – CVs, cover letter templates, LinkedIn profiles etc. – are up-to-date and ready to go. You should also be registering with recruitment agencies, signing up for job alerts and making speculative enquiries to employers.

2. Keep an open mind
Some areas of employment will be better placed to survive in a post-Brexit world than others. The multinational banks are talking about relocating their HQs to other markets, while property, construction and architecture employers are likely to be highly exposed to any forthcoming downturn. It might be time for plan B.

One man’s loss is another’s gain, however, and it should be business as usual for the law and professional services firms needed to help businesses through an intricate web of jurisdictional challenges. Companies exporting to non-EU markets will also be boosted by a weak pound over the months ahead.

3. Skill up
Don’t have all your eggs in one basket. The broader your skill set, the more wiggle room you’ll allow yourself down the line. Now might be the time to invest in further training or to enroll on that Masters course you were thinking about. Think strategically about the competencies that are going to prove useful: the UK has a severe IT skills shortage, for instance; there may also be a demand for French and German speakers going forward, with English’s status as Europe’s go-to language now looking under threat.

4. Think before you jump
Employers will be viewing potential new hires with increasing scrutiny, so why shouldn’t you. Think carefully before accepting any new offers of employment – the last thing you want is to come onboard a sinking ship and be back in the applicant pool a few months later. Research online: if an employer has a large EU client base or has seen its share price drop sharply it may be best avoided. At the very least it’s worth having a tactful conversation about your long-term job security before you sign on the dotted line.

With so much uncertainty in the air the important thing is not to panic or rush into making knee-jerk decisions that could affect your long-term career trajectory. There may well be trouble ahead, but still plenty of opportunities for determined, resourceful candidates.

Reference: Abintegro News, The Guardian;; Career Addict; Randstad; Career Camel;; Irish Jobs

Preparing thoroughly for a job interview is a no brainer, but it’s not always obvious what direction your research should take. Here are some handy tips on what you should be looking for and where:

1. What you need to research
Finding the information you need should be a step-by-step process. You should look to categorise your research as follows:

• The organisation – start with the essentials: the company’s history, its product lines, recent developments and details of any new projects or innovations.
• The sector – what are the main trends and developments taking place in the industry? Who are the main players and where does your employer sit within this ecosystem?
• The people/ culture – the culture of a company will usually start with its founder or CEO and filter down. Find out as much as you can about the people running the organisation, their background and values. Make sure also to research the person (or persons) who will be interviewing you for a better idea of the kind of questions you’ll face.
• The role – review the results of your investigation against the job specification. Can particular skills be deemed more important given what you now know about the employer?

2. Where you need to research
The web is a good place to start your research; here’s where you should be looking

• Company website – your first port of call. As well as the ‘About us’ section, be sure to scour the bios of the key decision makers. Skim the annual report for details of the firm’s strategy and future ambitions.
• Financial information – publicly listed companies will allow you to download details of their recent earnings and financial health. Registries like store details for smaller, private companies.
• Social media – LinkedIn and Twitter can be great ways to check up on what your employer is thinking and doing and to get a feel for the culture. Read updates and postings, and check out the profiles of the key stakeholders.
• Industry news sites/ blogs – these can be great for gossip on what the company is up to and for noting wider industry trends.

3. Who you can talk to
Those connected with the employer can usually offer a deeper insight into the culture of the company and what it takes to work there:

• Speak to current/ former employees – reach out to your network for first-hand testimonies of working with the organisation. Work through your LinkedIn connections or tap your alumni network.
• ‘Insider’ websites – sites like Glassdoor or chat rooms are useful for getting a warts-and-all impression of the firm and how the application process works.
• Ask HR – employers will usually provide information on the structure of the interview and who you’ll be meeting, so don’t forget to ask for it.

Of course every industry and employer is different, but the list above should provide a solid framework to build your research around. Information will differ from place to place and will sometimes be out of date, so remember to vary your sources as much as possible.

Reference: Abintegro News

If you’re heading to an interview or an appraisal you may be asked to talk about your strengths, but many people are confused about the difference between strengths and skills. That’s because it IS confusing: people all over the internet are defining skills, clarifying strengths, underlining the differences and at the same time using them synonymously.

Skills are often described as something you learn how to do through repetition for which there is a best practice or a set way of doing something like coding in a given language or swimming a specific stroke. Strengths, on the other hand, are defined as things we are naturally good at and didn’t really have to learn, or softer, rather more intangible character traits, such as social intelligence, courage, honesty and curiosity.

However, the latter examples are frequently referred to specifically as ‘personal’ strengths. Unlike skills and other strengths these are difficult, if not impossible, to measure objectively, but they are important and should be included in your full list of strengths.

So personal strengths aside it’s the ‘other’ strengths that cause the most confusion; the ‘naturally good at’ strengths. Take languages as an example: the ability to speak French may be a skill, but the ability to learn languages relatively easily is a strength; someone that presents well could be considered to have good presentation skills, but many may say presenting is one of their strengths. What about something you didn’t know how to do a year ago that after some training you’ve found yourself to be particularly good at? Sometimes the difference between the two seems a very blurred semantic line.

However, the new focus on strengths in strengths-based interviews may shed some light on what we all really mean when we talk about a strength.

Competency-based interviews, which could be called skills-based interviews, ask what you can do and what you have done; strengths-based interviews ask what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. That enjoyment combined with proficiency is what gives you the energy and flow that strengths-based interview questions are really seeking to discover in a candidate.

If we start from a point where every ability, in which competence can be objectively measured (so that excludes personal strengths), that adds value is a skill then every skill that we know we are good at and we enjoy is a strength.

Skills vs strengths: it doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just a matter of asking yourself “am I good at this, do I enjoy it and does it add value?”

Source: Abintegro News

For many of us, what we say is punctuated and disjointed by those little ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ that get unwittingly sprinkled through otherwise well-constructed sentences.

”I was like… planning to like say that, but ummmm he just… like said it before me.” They are verbal crutches, with ‘like’ being particularly common amongst younger people.

Though certainly not the most criminal of linguistic lapses, this habit can be a drawback in professional life, detracting from the value of what is being said and often detrimentally affecting the listener’s perception of the speaker’s eloquence. It is something especially important to be aware of when it comes to job interviews or speaking in front of groups of people.

Here’s how to rid yourself of this small, but annoying verbal tic:

1. Be aware of it
The first step in kicking any unwanted habit is awareness. Make a mental note whenever you catch yourself ‘umming’ or ‘liking’ – try and work out whether there are particular triggers or environmnts that set you off. Get a friend to monitor things for you, or set your smartphone to record during high-pressure situations such as meetings or public speaking events.

2. Slow down
Speed is often a key factor behind those ‘um’ or ‘like’ eruptions. We feel the need to speak fast so that people won’t lose interest in what we’re saying or jump in and steal our thunder. Our brains struggle to keep up and we look for ways to plug the gaps.

Try slowing things down. As the bestselling author and bloggist Seth Godin points out, the fastest speaker in the room is not necessarily the one who’s heard best. Have confidence in yourself – if what you’re saying is important people will listen.

3. Allow the silence in
However slow you go, accept that there will be natural pauses in your speech from time to time. There’s no need to cram something into every gap – some of the most effective public speakers, Barack Obama for instance, deliberately leave long pauses between words to add gravitas. Breaking up your speech like this can actually build suspense and help focus others on what you’re saying.

Practise embracing these silences when they come along by resisting the temptation to fill them and letting them run their course.

4. Don’t expect miracles
Ridding yourself of a lifelong habit is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t berate yourself if you find yourself slipping up occasionally; the fact you’re noticing what you’re doing is itself a sign of progress. When you catch yourself ‘umming’ or ‘liking’ use it as a signal to take a deep breath and slow down.

Like any big adjustment it’s a gradual process but, with a little hard work and perseverance, there’s no reason why you can’t come out, tic-free, within the space of a few weeks. The cleaner your speech becomes, the more confident you’ll begin to feel when speaking and this will hopefully stop new tics cropping up in their place.


Source: Abintegro News

You may be a highly competent Skype or FaceTime user by now, but interviewing for a job over video can still be a fairly daunting experience.

There are essentially two forms of video interviews: the live versions and the taped or on-demand format. The latter require you to record your answers in your own time and send them back to the employer to review at their leisure.

The growing popularity of video interviews has added an extra layer of professionalism to the process. Transmitting from a dimply lit room with a fuzzy picture and crackly sound really isn’t going to cut it.

Whether technophile or phobe, here are some handy tecchy tips to help you through the experience.

1. Invest in the right equipment
If you want your transmission to have that professional look you can’t really rely on your built-in laptop camera and microphone. If you’re serious about looking more movie star and less slightly pasty amateur invest in an external HD camera, a high quality microphone and some lighting.

2. Set the scene
Preparation is everything. You can’t afford just to power up your laptop on the day and hope for the best. Think of it as staging your own mini production – you are the director, cameraman and lighting director all rolled into one.

• ‘Recce’ a few potential locations: you are looking for a quiet, bright, uncluttered space with a neutral background where you won’t be disturbed. Bathroom or car are NOT viable options!

• Make sure your face is fully visible; for the best view, position the camera at a good height so that it’s looking down at you from a slight angle – your looking up is always more flattering. For a simple, but effective lighting solution position two lights in front of you on either side of the screen – ordinary lights can be clamped to the screen.

3. Foresee potential problems
While technical glitches can happen, they still reflect badly on you and are best avoided.

• Make sure you have good power supply and that your battery is fully charged just in case you have to move location.

• If you’re interviewing live check that your internet is running at a good speed. Make sure you’re not doing anything that could affect the video quality like downloading.

4. Don’t forget those last-minute safety checks
Those final minutes before the interview are crucial. If you’re interviewing live it’s a good idea to log in early to give yourself time to get ready and deal with any issues.

However, make sure you don’t accidentally start transmitting before you’re ready – put the microphone on mute and pop a post-it note on the camera screen just in case. Then give the camera lens a wipe to remove any smudges.

The trick to a successful video interview is to approach it as you would the traditional, face-to-face version, while not underestimating the differences. Some will be more confident using technology than others, but time taken to properly prepare will truly make all the difference.

Source: Abintegro News