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11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

We’ve all experienced stage fright and can likely relate to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” (I hope you didn’t have the same sweater problem like he did in the song). In many ways eloquent speaking has a lot in common with rapping. It is not as outwardly rhythmical – not that it lacks rhythm – and you don’t get a beat to cover your mistakes, make you more colourful and keep your rhythm steady.

Talent is one thing when it comes to public speech but people tend to forget it is a skill more than anything else. A lot of people don’t even allow themselves to visualise a situation where they are addressing a crowd for fear of exposure. Still, being able to hold an audience’s attention is a much desired skill for professional situations as well as personal social situations. Here are a few don’ts which you can avoid in order to help you boost your public speaking skills and conquer your fear of the stage!

1. They don’t rush things

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    When panic strikes everything speeds up. Your heart rate goes up, you start shaking, a million thoughts go through your head and you start to speed up everything that you do. This means that you start talking faster than usual without being aware of it. By being aware of the jitters that they experience before going on stage, professional speakers deliberately slow down to the speed at which they talk in order to avoid blabbering, stuttering and losing their flow.

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    2. They don’t allow negative thoughts to control them

    Over thinking is a very common problem these days and you can easily be spiralling into a self-induced state of panic if you let your mind wander. By focusing only on the reasons why and the possibilities how you are going to fail a certain endeavour, you can provoke a very real fear. Even though the situation is not that challenging, you are still going to perceive the negative potential of the situation since that is the only thing you are focusing on. Public speaking doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed in that classic “politician to the crowd” sense, it can also be a required skill in the office environment. This can be difficult for a lot of people to achieve and is why there is so much talk about creating a stress free office environment. Basically, it means better communication and organization.

    Instead of doing this, attempt to hype yourself up. Try to visualize the whole thing as a sports match and set yourself into that winning mentality. I don’t mean a professional sports match, more like something you play against friends and you go in with that winning mentality that comes easily and naturally, since there is no pressure. This “I can do this” attitude may seem tacky, but it works and can help you channel that excess energy you get when panicking.

    3. They don’t take the approach of a sales person

    Salespeople have a specific oratory style which works for some situations. The first thing that comes to my mind as an example of this is the way a used cars salesman addresses a customer when trying to sell a car. Now, if you want to be an eloquent speaker, you need to steer clear from this “style”. Depending on personal preference you can attempt to be more than a few things and find your perfect fit. You can attempt to be entertaining, charming, interesting, or inspirational but never allow yourself to get into a situation where you come off as someone who is attempting to make money from the people you are addressing.

    4. They don’t avoid eye contact

    When people are performing in front of a large crowd (remember that speaking is a performing art) they tend to avoid making eye contact with people in an attempt to depersonalize the situation. Yes, it is true that you can lower your stress levels by focusing on a faceless crowd and this can work for some performing artists – let’s say a guitarist – but the nature of the situation you are in requires you to make eye contact with the people you are speaking to. According to Forbes it is one of the worst body language mistakes you can pull off! It is only the polite thing to do and it helps you establish a better connection with your audience. After all, this is a dialogue between you and your audience and you need to establish this dialogue.

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    5. They don’t focus on negative people in the crowd

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      The reason a lot of people avoid eye contact with people in the audience has a lot to do with their fear of finding people who are outwardly showing signs of disapproving what they are saying.  What do you do when you run into people like that? Well, nothing, you merely skip over them and focus on those who are saying “Yes” instead of “No”. Draw your energy from them and keep them with you. There are always going to be people who disapprove and if you chase for everyone’s approval you are only going to put yourself down.

      6. They don’t forget about their accent

      If you are not a native English speaker, then you are bound to have an accent (even if you are a native speaker, you likely have distinctive pronunciation habits). The accent isn’t something that you should be worried about if your grammar is decent, but your accent can be hard to decipher for people that have never heard it before. This is why speakers tend to make a short but slow-paced introduction in order to let their audience adjust to their accent. The human ear is a very capable instrument, but it needs a bit of time to make the adjustment, so don’t rush things so you and lose your crowd through most of your introduction while they are still adjusting to your accent.

      7. They don’t forget to breathe

      When in state of panic, our body tends to tense up and our muscles tend to contract. The same thing happens to people who have anxiety. Their body tightens and they forget to breathe which makes them panic even more. They start to stutter and panicked thoughts keep running around their head and they break down. The most basic way is just to always remind yourself to breathe. When speaking in front of a crowd, get on stage, take a couple of breaths and compose yourself before you start talking. Don’t worry, your audience will wait for you and remember that you have control of the situation, so if you need a couple of seconds to catch your breath, take them. It is far worse to elevate your stress level and start losing your flow.

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      8. They don’t focus on a repetitive motions

      Again, repetitive motions like foot tapping, hand and fingers cracking and similar automatic movements are some of those nifty tricks our body uses to get us ready for those fight or flight situations and again, is absolutely useless to us in these kinds of situations. Even though it might seem natural satisfying this urge, it won’t help you feel any better. Quite the opposite, it will make you feel even more under pressure. Furthermore, this is a very outward sign of nervousness which everyone can recognize, which can ruin the credibility of what you are saying. Pacing falls into this category as well, because losing control of this can make you winded, which will definitely influence your diction, your phrasing and so on.

      9. They don’t miss the tone of the subject matter

      Missing the tone is something that can turn into a very awkward situation, but in most cases, it isn’t hard to do. Don’t drag humour where it has no place and strive to show respect to serious things. On the other hand, if your goal is to inspire people, don’t make your tone flat and boring. Rise to the excitement level contained in the words you are vocalizing. Professionals play with tone in order to provoke a more dramatic reaction, but first, you need to be comfortable with the subject matter and be able to find its most natural tone. Then, and only then should you try to experiment with tone. Don’t try to run before you can walk.

      10. They don’t forget to research their audience

      You need to be able to adapt. Not every environment is the same nor are the customs and social norms, so you need to be aware of what is considered polite behaviour and who are the people that you are going to be addressing. This is the same for online mass communication, which sounds complicated, but it’s basically knowing the basic customs when addressing people on Facebook. Similarly, you need some time to adjust to the particularities of a social network and you need to devote some time to finding the right approach for a particular audience.

      11. They don’t EVER forget to show gratitude

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      Gratitude Cicero quote

        People’s attention is a gift and you should thank people for it. Somebody took the time to give you a shot to do your thing and this is an amazing gift. If you take it as a given, you are actually being very rude. Furthermore, people tend to remember and react to polite people better which is essential for good speakers to be remembered.

        Self-control is a bit of an issue with public speech and it is a craft you need to spend your time and your attention on. A bit of talent and a lot of hard work, mixed with productive and immersive practice sessions leads to perfection.

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        Aleksandar Ilic

        Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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        Last Updated on March 14, 2019

        7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

        7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

        Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

        For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

        Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

        1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

        A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

        It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

        It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

        How it helps you:

        If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

        Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

        2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

        Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

        Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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        How it helps you:

        Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

        Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

        If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

        Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

        3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

        Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

        Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

        How it helps you:

        This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

        For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

        Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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        A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

        4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

        To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

        A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

        How it helps you:

        One word: hierarchy.

        All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

        In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

        If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

        5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

        Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

        Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

        How it helps you:

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        Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

        If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

        This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

        6. What do you like about working here?

        This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

        Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

        How it helps you:

        You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

        Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

        Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

        7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

        What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

        As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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        How it helps you:

        What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

        First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

        Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

        Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

        Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

        Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

        Making Your Interview Work for You

        Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

        Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

        More Resources About Job Interviews

        Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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