Do you ramble?

8 08 2010

Have you ever gotten feedback from an interview where people thought you were just rambling or not answering the questions?  I feel like this sometimes–I have so many thoughts and I just want to get them out.  But in the process of doing so, I’ve often left the original question hanging.  Yes, *stands up* I can ramble.

I just finished a course, where I am learning to be a better public speaker.  What makes someone an effective public speaker?  Their tone?  Their pace?  Their presence?  Their entertainment value?  It’s definitely a combination of qualities and many youtube videos give tips and tricks.

As I was taking this course, I read article and article and watched video after video about effective ways of public speaking.  However, having presented every day for the past 365 days, you would think that I would have a handle on this.  I actually don’t.  I may have some fundamental strengths, but some of my public speaking weaknesses far outweigh the strengths.

I’ve found that when I’m trying to persuade people to follow my idea, the delivery of my message is, perhaps, more important to the message itself.  When you’re in an interview, do you really take the time to make sure that you’re leveraging your public speaking skills and presenting yourself in the right way?

Here’s what I’m working on and some things that you should watch out for, as well:

  1. Fillers - um… uh…em… you know?… right? – I once had a high school student tell me that I said “um” 17 times in an impromptu speech that they asked me to give.  The kid was a brat.  But the kid was right. I like to fill silence with sound.  When I am thinking out loud or not getting an active response from my audience, I find myself rambling and asking qualifying statements, like “you know?”.  To be quite frank, I’m shaking my valley girl nuances and trying to polish my language.
    The solution:  practice silence spaces in the form of pauses and phrasing.
  2. Tone and speed - Sometimes I find myself reverting back to “little Stefanie” voice, with a high pitched tone and upward inflection at the end of my sentences.  When I come to these points, I ask–why am I doing this?  I am usually rambling.
    The solution:  pause, practice slowing down.  When I slow down, the tone also drops several octaves.
  3. Diving into the content: Sometimes, I just start talking without an apparent purpose, but I’m just thinking out loud.
    The solution:  prime your audience to brainstorm or to think through the scenario with you. Then it’s not rambling, it’s thought process.
  4. Rambling - I talk a lot.  Pause.  Closing my mouth now.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Communicate with purpose: Thinking is not always a group process.  Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you speak.
  • Communicate with structure: An easy way to collect your thoughts is to create a quick structure for them.  What is the main point you want to get across?  What are the pieces of evidence or explanation you are going to provide to back up your point?  Is there an action or take away?
  • Communicate conscientiously: This is probably one of the most important take aways for me.  Think about your audience.  What is going to relate to them?  What is going to make them feel connected to you and what you’re saying?  Why should they care?

Keeping some of these tips in mind can keep you from rambling and repeating yourself in an interview.  It’s something that I wish I had developed at a younger age, but here I am.  Learning to speak persuasively and effectively.  Watch some of those public speaking videos and read the Toast Masters public speaking tips and practice speaking as they do.  I promise that it will help you in communicating your skills and qualities effectively to your audience.

Man, I could have really used this skill when I was interviewing.

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2 responses

14 08 2010
Tze Yang Lee

This has been a vexing concern of mine for some time already, and your post come in the most timely manner. Cheers.

17 08 2012
DIY Madam

I ramble in interviews where in other parts of my life, I can be very curt and direct. I find it very disturbing and at the time during an interview when it does happen, I am very disappointed in myself. Often, I find that when I am really excited about a job, I have prepared well and I get a question that I don’t know how to porperly answer, I get nervous and I ramble. Furthermore, I tend to ramble on the negative questions, the ones that really deserve the quickest and shortest answers. I go on and on. I don’t pick up on the interveiwer’s cue; I just don’t seem to get it. It is an awful feeling and the flashbacks of the interviews are painful. I am aware and I try, I really do try to work on it. I have an interview today and I will try to speak slower, think about the question being asked and the answer that the interviewer wants to hear BEFORE opening my pie hole. By the by, that inflection in the voice thing is very true with me as well. I have been taping my answers and noticed this and had to add that to the list of things I need to work on.

I am trying. Good luck to those out there is a similar scenario.

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