Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

In the midst of going confidently in the direction of your dreams, it is important to remember that preparation is key. To live your dream life you have to allow yourself to be pruned to excellence and open to constructive feedback that will help you represent yourself at your best. For some their season of initial preparation can last hours and for others it can last years but for many they realize and acknowledge that it is a lifetime journey to live your dreams and accomplish your career goals.  Dedicating the time and sought after the resources to strengthen your elevator speech, presentation skills, body language, or up-leveling your knowledge and abilities is an ongoing process.  Preparation is also a barometer of readiness and a timing gauge to demonstrate courage of applying for a job or a promotion.

I recently connected with Jarrod Uddin who is a seasoned Youth Motivational Speaker and Teacher Trainer who helps to bridge the gap between students and those who care for them. Jarrod has been featured as a TED Talks presenter, radio personality and audience “warm-up” guy for a host of national main stage events. His repertoire includes but is not limited to: product presenter for the International Auto Show, Motivational Speaker for more than 100 high schools nationwide, and corporate trainer for several U.S school districts. Jarrod can mesmerize an audience to become entranced with his every word and then launch them into full participation of an audience warm up exercise that can take over the room like the wave at a football game. In a short period of time Jarrod can spark smiles and leave a lasting impression that keeps the audience wanting to experience more of his engaging warm up exercises. That is the same lasting impression interview candidates want to leave after an interview with a potential or current employer when being considered for a position. Candidates want to know that they were effectively engaging with interviewers and left a positive and strong lasting impression that will result in advancing in the interview process. I am delighted to share this interview I had with Jarrod. It gives insightful directives of how to advance in your preparation time, to yield a higher return potentially to live your dreams and career goals.

Career Tipper: Please share a few tips on how career seekers and changers can master their elevator pitch?

Uddin: Mastering the “Elevator Pitch” is a very simple yet precise art. First, pull out a notepad and write down in plain language, what it is exactly that you do. It isn’t uncommon to write down things such as: “I am a Banker, I work in Marketing,” or “I am in search of my next opportunity“. Unfortunately, people aren’t interested in your title or job description, rather the unique traits, qualities and value that you personally bring to the table. So now it’s time to meditate on your actual value. Every job function is in place to service not just that workplace, but in a sense, humanity overall. How is it that you better humanity through your role? For example, if you are a Banker, your elevator pitch may be: “I help people to build their family legacy through financial security“. If you are in Marketing, your elevator pitch may be: “I help companies tell their story in a way that’s fun and engaging“, a far more engaging pitch than: “I work in Marketing“. Be sure to keep your pitch concise (to one sentence). Practice your pitch in front of the mirror a few times, say it as often as possible. Key: People love to hire and work with people who are passionate about what they do! So be sure to smile! Everything about you should light up when you deliver your pitch. 

Career Tipper: What are some body language tips professionals need to be mindful of during a business presentation?

Uddin: Practice standing still, in ONE place, with both feet planted and face the audience. Pacing the floor while delivering is distracting to the audience. There is a secret “Ninja-Tactic” that I like to practice (it’s tough to do, but it will hold your audience’s attention for the entire time you are presenting): Try looking someone in the eyes for no less than five seconds while you are delivering a main talking point, and then continue doing this with various individuals in the room while you are presenting. This is one of those subtle signs of professional speakers and works like a charm to keep audiences engaged. Lastly, try to keep your hand gestures to a minimum. Waving hands are always distracting. Try holding your hands together in front of you or to your side. Only use them when you are deliberately looking to stress a point. As a speaker, my “Cardinal DON’T” with hand gestures: is usage of the pointing finger. We speaker call it the nagging mother syndrome. The problem with the pointing finger is it is managerial and very aggressive. You want your audience to receive you as a pleasant individual. Speak as if you are talking one on one with a great friend. 

Career Tipper: What is an effective way for professionals to handle criticism and feedback during a presentation?

Uddin: Please remember, you are never as good as your greatest feedback, and you are never as bad as your worst feedback. When dealing with an audience, I like to refer to the “80/20 Rule for Speakers“. Essentially, if you are speaking to a room of 100 people, at least 10% will love you no matter what. Another 10% most likely won’t, while the remaining 80% is open to persuasion. That middle 80% is on you to convince. If you have the chance to speak one on one to the meeting planner, your boss or a trusted participant, you now have a brilliant opportunity to control the feedback. Say this (one on one): I’m glad to hear that you found value in the presentation/content provided. Would you mind at all, giving me just ONE piece of tough feedback (in-person or via email)?, something that you believe I could be doing better in the area of presenting? Something that is brutally honest that could help me improve? I would be more than grateful (please thank me THAT way).

Career Tipper: How can professionals display confidence during presentations and informal meetings?

Uddin: Confidence comes through preparation. That’s it. The more nervous you are, the less time you have taken to prepare. Be sure to both write out, practice, rewrite and re-practice, everything that you want to say. During presentations, it is important to never say one-word more than you need to make your point. Quick Story: When helping his students cram for a Chemistry exam, a wise professor told his class that he would allow them to bring in one notecard as a cheat-sheet for the exam. Knowing that they couldn’t cram everything onto notecards, they each poured over their notes, compiled from months worth of lessons, found the most important items, and ultimately managed to crunch 3-months worth of written notes, onto a concise notecard. When it came time for the exam, something “magical” happened. The students ended up spending so much time pouring over their notes and cheat-sheets, that each of them were able to take the exam with almost zero use of their notecards.  Follow suit. Write your main points on a notecard and carry it with you to reduce the fear of trying to remember all of your points. Your notecard will serve as a “security blanket” that you won’t even need! And if all else fails, just get passionate! Smile, raise your voice, become excited during your delivery. If you are confident, happy and passionate about your delivery, your audience will be as well!

To learn more about Jarrod’s speaking platform visit his website, www.jarrodspeaks.com