Communicating to be heard: Can you hear me?
As I travel across the country speaking in college classrooms and networking on campus, I have found that there are some very bright and talented students who get lost in the conversation. Many students look really good on paper, but when it is time for them to communicate either in a networking session or in a formal or informal interview, they earn a “C” on the delivery of the information contained in their resume.
In past blogs we have discussed how to create great resumes.
- Understand your audience, do your homework Make sure that you have adequately prepared yourself for the upcoming conversation or interview. Be sure that you have researched the company, so that you can speak to different questions that will come up. Most companies make it easy for you to learn about them on their web site. For example, Sodexo’s Careers page not only provides information about the company, but how you can network with us, too! When it’s time for your meeting, be prepared to discuss how you see yourself in the company. Even if it’s not an interview but just a networking session, make sure that you know who will be in the room and practice your 30-second elevator speech.
- Be clear, concise and crisp in your delivery When it is time to speak, be sure that you are speaking with confidence. Know that you have spent time working on your delivery so that your articulation is excellent and you get right to the point. Make your delivery so clear, that follow-up questions are not needed.
- Stay on topic You want to make sure that you stay on topic. For example, if I am at an interview, I will follow the lead of the interviewer. I answer the questions that are asked and if the interviewer opens the door to discuss non-related items, then I will follow. I do not want to start talking about the concert from last night and all of the details if the door for that conversation has not been opened.
- Be sincere and honest People will be able to tell if you are embellishing your conversation. To avoid this, be open and honest about what you are saying. When you are honest, you can speak with confidence. Tell your story and allow your story to speak for you. Even if there are some parts of your story that you are not too proud of, it is your story to tell; however it can be good to acknowledge these parts of the story and talk about how you would do things differently today. This is what makes great communication so interesting, everyone has a different story.
- Be positive One thing that will turn a listener off is someone who continuously speaks negatively. In fact, it is very easy to speak about negatives. Instead, redirect the negative energy and turn the situation around. Speak about how you were able to turn the negative into a positive. Remember, it is your story.
- Be direct and leave jargon at home Do not beat around the bush. Say what you want to say in a manner that will please the listener. Remember who you’re speaking to and limit the use of jargon or slang. Some of the language you use with friends may not be offensive to them, but could offend someone in a professional situation.
Are you ready to be heard? Start practicing now – with your roommate, your friends or family. When you communicate, try to convey your ideas to another person to make a lasting, favorable impression. Remember, you only get one chance to make that first impression – everything that happens in those few minutes could lead to a great career opportunity, now or in the future. Use these tips and make it count. Good luck!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR).