Saturday, March 30, 2019

Verbal Communication Skills

Verbal communication skills are essential to express yourself in an effective and positive manner. Most often, it is not what you know but how well you can express what you know is what matters in presentations, extempore speech, group discussions and interviews. So, how do you enhance your verbal communication skills to speak more effectively to create a positive impact on your listener(s)? In this article, we shall cover some basic techniques like structuring, sound scripting, tonal modulation and pace control along with the use of communication enhancers such as emphatic expressions, phrasing and action oriented words to enhance your verbal communication.  


Techniques for effective verbal communication enhancement:

STRUCTURING 

Structuring your sentences is important to express clarity of thought and ideas, and convey what you want to say in a meaningful, easy to understand manner. Structuring involves breaking your script (what you want to say) into separate, logical parts, then combining them to make a progressive, meaningful sequence, with one idea leading to the next in a smooth flow. There are basically two ways in which you can structure your communication. The first is called the Down-Flow Sequence and the second is called the Reverse-Flow Sequence method:

 

1. Down-Flow Sequence:

This is used when youre going to speak on some topic. Youll be able to perform better if you frame your thoughts and ideas in logically structured sequence such as:

A-Opening statement or Greeting
B-Theme or topic introduction                                            
C-Giving/ your views regarding the topic (depends on the topic youre covering)
D-Elaborating on the Pros and Cons of the issue
E-Discussing existing & prospective solutions to resolve the issue
F-Summarizing the topic
G-Giving a concluding comment
    

2. Reverse-Flow Sequence:

This method is ideally suited for giving a self-presentation/or self introduction. It involves structuring your personal information in a reverse progression – from the most relevant to the least relevant, as per the following sequence:
  
A-Your name
B-Your career objective or goal                                              
C-Your areas of knowledge and skills
D-Your practical training or work experience
E-Your Achievements
F-Your special or extra-curricular activities & hobbies
G-Your personal details like family background and place of origin.
F-Concluding sentence

SOUND SCRIPTING

Sound Scripting makes use of intonation and pauses to make your communication more effective and positive. It uses a method of bolding” or underlining key content words to stress upon (word stress), giving Slash (/) key for defining pauses during your speech, and CAPITALIZING the most important words for the best emotional impact (tonal modulation). 

   
1. Word Stress: Emphasis on key words in a sentence. 
  
English is essentially a language in which we give stress to certain words (or parts of a word) while other words are quickly spoken or swallowed. Pronouncing every word correctly and precisely leads to stilted communication! Good communication comes from stressing the right words. Using word stress helps in proper pronunciation of words and enhancing your English communication skills.

2. Voice Modulation: to highlight relevant phrases/words.
   
Voice modulation is extremely important if you want to  keep your audience interested in what you speak. You can modulate your tone and pace to emphasize on certain phrases & words to create a better impact on the listeners. If you speak in a flat evenly toned voice, youll more likely to bore your audience or put them to sleep.
    
3. Punctuation: Giving brief pauses before words & phrases to highlight them. All good communicators or public speakers use the technique of ‘pausing’ to invoke audience interest in what theyre going to say next. The pauses need to incorporated into your speech at carefully selected times to create the maximum impact.

COMMUNICATION ENHANCERS:

Communication Enhancers are those words, phrases or figure of speech which make your communication more interesting and stylish, like adding garnishing to your food. They can be categorized into the following types:
   
A-Word Partnerships: After all, Lets face it, In fact, In the long run
  
B-Idiomatic phrases: Ahead of the pack, Calling the shots, Babe in the woods
  
C-Phrasal Verbs: Abide by, Agree with, Break up, Come across, Ease off
  
D-Emphatic Expressions (Intensifier + Verb Collocations): Categorically deny, Deeply regret, Readily endorse, Positively encourage, strongly recommend
  
E-Action Verbs, Quotes & Proverbs: List of idioms, proverbs, quotations, action words and phrasal verbs are easily available on the web on various websites. Otherwise you can find them in any good English language textbook or a book on quotations, idioms and proverbs. They can be used in your presentation to convey meaning to your words in a more compelling manner instead of than using simple sentences.

CONTROLLING YOUR PACE
Keep a steady pace to enable sound scripting techniques. A slower pace helps you in correct pronunciation, gives you time to think of appropriate words to use, as well as time to structure your sentences. It also allows you to organize your content.
   
What's the benchmark?
Even though the human ear and brain can compile and decode about 400 spoken words per minute, for better perception and comprehensibility a slower pace should be used. Good communicators have a pace is between 140-160 words per minute. A pace of 200+ words is fast and below 120 is slow. You should practice keeping your verbal pace between the acceptable ranges.

This article briefly touches upon the various verbal communication enhancers one can use to deliver a powerful and impressive speech or presentation. In the subsequent articles on verbal communication skills, well cover detailed aspects of each verbal communication enhancement technique mentioned here along with several examples to facilitate a clearer understanding on how to practically use these techniques.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cover Letter Tips

THE COVERING LETTER: 
A covering letter along with your CV is absolutely essential in case you are applying directly for a job. A CV without a covering letter is like wearing trousers without a shirt. The covering letter gives you the opportunity to highlight your career objectives, your purpose for applying, and emphasize your skill sets in order to market yourself successfully as the ideal candidate for the job. Here are some essential points to be kept in mind while composing your cover letter:
   
Cover Letter essentials: 
1. Try to personalize the cover letter by inserting name/designation of the person you are applying to.
2. Mention your time of availability for a telephonic/personal interview.
3. Give specific reasons why you want to join the company based on research of the company and the job profile you have applied for.
4. Give specific job related skills and attitudes rather than generalized ones.
5. Cover letters can be both solicited and unsolicited. The opening format is different for each type.  
6. Don't make the employer work to read your letter. Keep it clear, concise and to the point.
7. If emailed put your covering letter in the body of the email and your CV as an attachment.
8. Do not go over one side of the A4 size sheet.
9. Spell-check and then double-check your spelling and grammar. 
10. Answer the question "Why should I bother to see you? Recruiters get hundreds of job applications. Your cover letter must stand out apart from others, and must be a close, if not ideal, match to the expectation level of the prospective employers.
11. Include your understanding of the job/knowledge of the company.  It shows you have done your research and are a serious candidate. 
12. Relate skill sets and work experience  relevant to the job profile
    
Here is a possible 4-para structure for a covering letter:
Para 1: Stating your purpose: (max. 2 lines)                           
State the job profile youre applying for in case of unsolicited applications. In case of solicited applications, mention where you found out about it refer to the advert insert and date.
Para 2: Introducing yourself & showing keen interest (max 4 lines)
Mention your current pursuit, why you're interested in that type of work, why this particular company attracts you & why you want to work there.
Para 3: Showing how you can be an asset to the organization (max. 4-5 lines) 
Highlight your strengths (knowledge, experience & skills) briefly and emphasize how they may be of an advantage to the organization. Make sure to relate your skills to the job.
Para 4: Prompting for action (max. 2-3 lines)
Mention the dates that you will be available for personal or telephonic interview and end off by thanking the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.

For more tips, check out our uploaded video on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Professional Grooming Tips

Why Professional Grooming?

The packaging of a product is considered a crucial factor for its success in the market. When you go to a shopping mall to purchase something, the first thing that catches your attention is an attractively packaged product. The colour, design and picture on the packaging create an initial impression of the product in your mind, which may compel you to consider buying the product if other factors are suitable. Similar is the impact of your professionally groomed appearance on your potential employer. 

The first impression that you make on the interviewers is the most important one and the initial judgement an interviewer makes about you is based on how you look and whether you have taken care to dress in an appropriate manner, which shows your level of seriousness about the job. That is why it is always important to dress professionally for a job interview.

Your first impression should not just be good, but a great one. Your attire is the outward image that is projected by you to create an impact on others. An immaculately dressed candidate in a suit and tie will make a much better impression than a candidate dressed in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt or in a simple shirt and pant. It is not just sufficient to dress well, but you should also take care of your personal grooming.  A casual or a scruffy hairstyle with a formal business suit will spoil the whole impact you are trying to make.   (...to be continued)

CV Basics

The Curriculum Vitae:

The CV is the most important document in terms of highlighting your knowledge, skills and aptitude for a job, as well as providing a brief about your academic and family background. The CV used to be a simple source of information about the applicant earlier. But now the CV is used as a marketing tool for getting yourself noticed and being called for an interview. The most important thing to realize is that customization of your CV and covering letter is essential if you want to make your application stand out from the crowd and solicit a positive response from the company you have applied to. 

Think of your CV as a marketing tool, think of yourself as a product, your potential employers as your customers, and your CV as a sales brochure about yourself. Market yourself through your CV. What are your features and benefits? What makes you unique? Make sure to convey this information briefly and concisely in your CV.

Types of CV:

In order to design an impressive CV which creates a positive impact on your prospective employer, you first need to decide on the type of CV that best depicts all your relevant information in a brief clear style. There are three types of CV formats you can choose from:

1. Chronological CV:
A chronological CV lists your academic record & work experience date wise with emphasis on your most recent academic pursuit or job. This type of CV is most suitable for people with an extensive working experience along with an academic track record.

2. Functional CV:
A functional CV focuses essentially on the skills and aptitude that are relevant to the job you are applying for. It contains a brief about your skill sets such as good communication skills, team working and leadership qualities, managerial skills, analytical abilities, creativity, proactive skills, organizational and planning skills, etc. It also highlights your aptitude for the job by expressing various inherent qualities you possess, such as a positive outlook, enthusiasm, zeal, tactfulness, self motivation, etc. A functional CV is best suited for freshers with no work experience or those without a too impressive academic record, or for jobs where soft skills are essential to the performance of the job.

3. Hybrid CV:
A Hybrid CV takes both the chronological and functional aspects into its format.

CV Essentials:

Here are some essential points for designing a good CV which you should take into account:

> A single page, scannable, computer friendly CV is ideal.

> Use plain, white A4 size paper sheets to print your CV.

> Leave a one inch margin on both sides.

> Use a simple, easy to read font such as Arial, Verdana, Georgia, TNR or Calibri.

> There should be at least single line gap between the different headers and sub headers.

> Avoid using fancy text fonts, graphics or too many lines or any color.

> Name and headers should either be in bold or ALL CAPS. Avoid underlining of text.

> Font size should be used to highlight your name and the headers. For the name, choose a font size of at least 18 points and 14 points for the headers. The rest of the text should be in minimum 12 points size.

> Your CV should have a clear format separated by headers, and use of bullets to mark the different points.

> Those who are tech savvy can also go in for creating an online, hypertext resume which include clickable links to reports written or project works done by you or any sort of additional information.

> Use of #'s, Rs. and %'s. Numbers, dollars, and percentages stand out in the body of a resume. Here are two examples:

(1) Managed a department of 10 with a budget of Rs.1,000,000. (2)Increased sales by 25% in a 15-state territory.

By keeping the above points in mind, you'll be able to design a powerful and effective CV.

For more tips, check out our uploaded video on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Non Verbal Communication during Interviews

Your body language says a lot about you. How you present yourself during the interview is as important as the way you answer the questions. As soon as you enter the room, there will usually be a short exchange of interview etiquette (greeting & handshake) followed by an ice breaking query, which is designed to put you at ease but these initial moments are the most opinion forming. Your body language conveys all sorts of messages, and if you use the right body language, it will convey the image of a well-balanced and confident individual. You have to make a great first impression – you'll never get a second chance to do so. Here are some tips to keep in mind about your body language while preparing for an interview:

Walk in confidently with your shoulders straight and a pleasant, natural smile on your face.

Maintain the smile while performing a firm handshake along with the brief exchange of greeting.
   
Sit comfortably with a firm posture. Keep your hands folded in your lap or at your sides. Do not lean over the interviewer’s table or place your hands in your pocket.

Both feet should be on the floor in a slightly forward position and you should sit straight without being stiff. 

Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.

If there's more than one interviewer, look towards the one who is talking. While you answer, make sure to shift your glance from one interviewer to the other interviewers in turn to include them all.  

Use hand gestures only to emphasize certain points. Don't overdo the hand gestures or communicate without using hand gestures at all. Also, don't make very wide hand gestures. Remember, you’re in an interview and not giving a presentation to a large audience. The best way to avoid this is to imagine a small one foot square box in front of you and make your hand gestures within that box only.

Use active listening skills by nodding to show you're listening to the interviewer. 

Keep a confident and interested facial expression. Try not to appear nervous, apprehensive or disillusioned. 

Keep a check on too frequently repeated body movements, such as making the same kind of hand gestures all the time.

Negative body language gestures:

Here are some negative body language gestures which you should be aware of and completely avoid during your interview:

Crossed arms: you are revealing a defensive and reserved personality.
            
Crossed legs:  means you are very reserved and wary.    
   
Sitting with hands inside the pockets: means you’re not sure or feel suspicious.

Sitting in a chair shaking one of the legs:  you feel completely nervous and uncomfortable.

Eyes downcast or face turned down:  means you’re not interested or too shy and rather be out of the room. 

Leaning back in the chair with both hands clasped behind head: usually this signifies an analytical mood, but not to be used in interviews as it is also conveys a gesture of superiority.

Rubbing or touching your nose, cheek or ear when answering a question:  you’re sure hiding something or not telling the complete truth.

Rubbing the back of your head or the back of your neck: means you’re really uncomfortable with the interview and would like to get away as soon as possible.

Making palm-down gestures:  such signs are generally reserved for authority figures.

Making a thumb up or down gesture: This is an informal symbol of non verbal communication and to be avoided at interviews.
         
Steepling or clasping your hands: displays intellectual arrogance or superiority and should be avoided.
  
Folding your legs under your chair or sitting with crossed ankle: while the first one shows an introverted tendency, the second one displays arrogance.                                   

Nervous actions while answering questions: biting your lip or licking them is a sign of nervousness, and should be strictly avoided.

For more tips on body language during interviews, check out our uploaded video on YouTube.