Your story is better than your resume. Use these five points to make your point faster and tell your story better.
Looking for a job is nothing but making a point…
A point about your value.
A point about your accomplishments.
A point about your contribution to an organization.
1. Articulate ideas in plain language.
The less jargon you use, the more engaging you become. In the writing world, shorter sentences get read. In the speaking world, shorter sentences get heard. Think like a writer. Watch those long and cumbersome sentences. Don’t construct your ideas in a way that overburdens people’s brains. Don’t spew one idea after another. Otherwise listeners will still be stuck on the first idea, trying to figure out what the heck you meant. Keep your message lean, low-carb and free of nonessential words. Are your messages simple and meaty?
2. Demonstrate commitment.
During my presentations, when I want to make a point about commitment, I show the audience a picture of my nametag tattoo. Usually it gets a good laugh or a collective gape. Still, I ask how many of them think it’s a fake. When the hands go up, I advance to a picture of the needle going into my skin as I say, “That ain’t no Sharpie.” The audience audibly cringes, laughs or gasps, at which point I ask them, “How committed are you?” Silence.
Obviously nobody is going to leave the presentation that very minute and march right into the tattoo parlor. But by going overboard intentionally, you stretch people, you force them to turn inward, confront themselves and start wondering how far they’d go.
People rarely forget conversations like that. Point made. How are you letting people bond with your level of commitment while simultaneously challenging them to reexamine their own?
3. Hanger words
When I conduct workshops on listenability, my audiences learn how to use “vocal hangers.” These conversational hooks attract people’s attention by building excitement around what you’re going to say next. Examples include: The secret is… Here’s the deal… Let me ask ya this… Here’s the best part… Think of it this way… Yes, and here’s why… Here’s my suggestion… And here’s the difference… The question I always ask myself is… I have one observation and one question — are you ready?
The secret to using vocal hangers is to pause ever so slightly before you deliver the goods. This heightens the level of anticipation and energy into the conversation. What’s more, the more you use them, the more you’ll internalize them. The more you internalize them, the more natural they will sound. The more natural they sound, the more they will become part of your lexicon. The more they become part of your lexicon; the more people will begin to expect them. And the more people begin to expect them, the more they will pay attention when they hear them. How do you elicit rapt interest?
4. Reflect their reality.
In my mentoring program, note taking is essential for point making. My favorite move is to select something in particular from my notes, turn the piece of paper around, then ask the mentee to read the passage to me. More often than not, people are shocked when they hear themselves speak. This feedback process (which I learned at the Presidents’ Council) offers a verbal mirror. It reflects the other person’s reality and helps people see themselves as others see them. What’s more, there’s no greater way to make a point than to mirror people’s own words. How are you using note taking for point making?
5. Stories trump resumes.
Bikram Yoga is my religion. Naturally, friends of mine who are considering taking a class often ask me what it’s like. “It’s tough,” I used to say. “Ninety minutes. 110° heat. 100 percent humidity. The absolute hardest workout you’ll ever experience in your life. But it will change you forever.” Unfortunately, that didn’t make the point very well. Hell, you could learn that on the studio Web site. Facts are the refuge of the unimaginative. Instead, I tell people the story about Rhonda. She’s a friend of mine who came to class with me. Afterwards, when I asked her how she felt, her exact words were, “I think I saw God.” She now practices four days a week. Lesson learned: Facts are retained – stories are retold. Which one are you using to prove your point?
Remember: Making a point isn’t just a skill – it’s an art.