Watching this incredibly popular TED talk will help you nail your next job interview

When you speak, do people actually listen?

That’s a good question to ask next time you go on a job interview or have to give a presentation at work. If you are speaking about your work experience or sharing some technical information, it can seem like you’re wasting your time if everyone seems to tune out.

Fortunately, there is a way to improve your chances of being heard. When answering behavioral interview questions in a job interview, a few tips from one of the most popular  TED talks of all time could turn the tables dramatically. Julian Treasure is a communication expert and speaker. His TED talk has attracted over 26 million viewers is one of the most popular of all time. There’s a reason for that.


Treasure explains in the opening moments of his talk why people don’t listen to a speaker.

There are a few telltale signs. He mentions how complaining tends to tune people out. We don’t like to hear negative ideas even if there’s a hint of gossip. While we might watch the morning news to hear about the latest calamity, in person we like it when people are positive and upbeat.

When they drone on and one about all the things they don’t like about life, we switch off. In an interview or when you’re giving a talk, it’s important to keep this in mind. Complaining tends to dull the ears of the listener because it means we won’t be inspired to make changes and we’ll feel annoyed for even being part of the conversation.

Treasure says blaming is another surefire way to block a conversation. Let’s say you’re giving a presentation at work and blaming the front office for some product delays. That might get you into trouble, but it also tends to create a negative vibe. (Treasure calls this a “blame thrower” which is a creative phrase to keep in mind.) Blaming a previous boss for problems in your
career is not wise during an interview or during office discussions. The listener will think — who else will you blame next instead of accepting ownership for the problems yourself?

Next on his list is making exaggerated claims, and most of us can probably relate to this. It’s more than padding a resume. Exaggeration makes people not listen as intently because we all have a sixth sense to pompous claims. We think — I’m not going to listen to someone who is puffing up the truth. Treasure says most of us prefer authenticity and honesty.

Another way to make people not want to listen? Treasure talks a fair amount about lying and misinformation. Once again, we tend to block our ears at false claims, maybe because we don’t want to be part of the propaganda but mostly because it reveals a lack of integrity. That seems to be the one theme that Treasure espouses the most. He mentions the phrase “walking in your own truth” and that might be the best recipe for success at work.

What does it really mean? For me, it’s all about personal integrity. When we are truthful and reveal the honest picture of who we are and what we’ve accomplished, we suddenly become more relatable and more human. Treasure continues on in his talk explaining how we should all be more upfront with helpful information and to show empathy to others.

This not only makes you more likable but will also implore people to listen. They will think: This is someone who has a story to tell. It’s honest and real. It’s authentic. It’s not bogus.

We tend to prefer truth and honesty because we’re living in our own reality of truth. We can spot when someone is being honest a mile away and we will listen because we prefer those characteristics. We want to develop them in ourselves.

Will you try being honest? Throwing out the bold audacious claims and sticking to the facts?

Avoiding all complaining and blaming? It works in all areas of business and will make people perk up and listen to what you have to say. They will suddenly want to listen.