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It might sound depressing, but there are tons of ways to mess up an interview. However, some of them can be prevented. Here's a super fast recap of the ways you can come across as a real person who is eminently employable, and not an emotionless robot.

Don't overprepare: That's right. Don't overprepare. Naturally, you want to be prepared, but you don't want to sound like you've memorized a speech. Think about how you might answer common interview questions, but actually listen to what the interviewer is saying. Repeat it back to them if necessary (and to buy yourself time).

Be a little casual: I'm not talking about wearing jorts to the meeting. But don't be afraid to speak in a more casual manner. Talk like yourself, not like a book you read about interviews. If you want to practice your extemporaneous speaking skills, ask a friend to give you different questions and prompts so you get the hang of answering quickly, but honestly.

Have your own questions ready: Yes, we know this isn't necessarily public-speaking related, but having 3 or more go-to questions ready will help immeasurably in keeping up the flow of conversation between you and the interviewer. It can also give you a chance to cover any of your skills and experiences that haven't already come up.

Good luck! The job market is tough, but never forget - you're interviewing THEM too. 

Photo credit: angryrobotzombie.com


 
 
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We’ve already established that humor is an effective sales tool. But that doesn’t mean you should go all Def Comedy Jam at your next sales presentation or company-wide meeting. There are effective ways to use humor, and then there is a way to use humor that makes it seem like you don’t take yourself or your clients seriously. Take a guess at which one we think you should use. 

Here are some things to think about when you’re using humor in the workplace:

  1. Be kind. Don’t make jokes at anyone else’s expense. Even if your client looks exactly like Screech from Saved by the Bell, refrain from making any jokes about his alleged years at Bayside, Kevin the Robot, or Lisa Turtle. For one thing, it’s likely he’s heard them before. More importantly, mean-spirited jokes are never a good idea, especially in a professional setting. If you must make jokes at someone’s expense, make them at your own.
  2. Your wit should be sparkling … clean: It might go without saying, but you should obviously not use offensive language or topics in workplace humor. If you have to ask, it’s probably not appropriate. It’s always best to err on the side of caution. Just use your best judgment. If you have terrible judgment, ask someone else. (Food for thought: If you have terrible judgment, do you KNOW you have terrible judgment?)
  3. Avoid touchy subjects: Since you’re already keeping it clean, this shouldn’t be hard to do. If you’ve done your research, you should know what topics are controversial within the company or community you’re presenting to. But some topics are nearly always taboo, like politics and religion. Avoid them and you should be just fine.
  4. Maintain your focus: While it can be easy to get carried away, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Make sure there’s enough meat in your presentation for the client or audience to have some serious takeaways. You want them to have fun, but you don’t want them to think your presentation was full of fluff, no substance. (mmm, fluff.)

Don’t worry – adding caution won’t suck the fun out of your humorous presentations! Rather, it will make them more focused, sharp, and ideally, more apt at getting people to buy what you’re selling.

 
 
 
 
Sales is a tricky field. Many factors have to align in order to create a successful sales relationship. The customer has to need or desire your product, and you have to offer them a deal they can’t or don’t want to refuse.

The sales pitch and the more formal sales presentation are both important factors in the success of any sales person. Do you feel confident about the ability of your sales team to be remembered, to build lasting relationships with clients, and close the deal?

You might want to consider adding a little humor to your sales presentations. Everyone loves to laugh, and when people hear something that strikes them funny, they sit up and take notice.

How can humor positively impact your sales presentations?

  1. It puts people at ease: Humor makes people comfortable. When you laugh, you become more relaxed and more receptive. Humor also has a way of bonding people together. When you’re all in on the joke, you feel like you’re really sharing something unique. This approach can work to create a connection whether you’re pitching a product one-on-one or to an entire room full of people.
  2. It will make an impression: Humor is memorable. If a company is listening to multiple sales pitches for similar products, who are they going to remember? The people with the nicest shoes? No. (Well, OK, I will probably notice if you have amazing shoes. But that will just make me want shoes, and unless you're selling shoes, that's no good.) They’re going to remember the sales person who made them laugh. They may not be quoting jokes, but they will say something like “I really enjoyed that Bob. He was a riot!” If you strike the right balance between professionalism and humor, it’s smooth sailing from there!
  3. Humor connotes confidence: When you’re so comfortable with yourself and speaking publicly that you can make jokes, the audience will notice. Many salespeople are too tightly wound when making presentations, and end up coming across as bland, uninteresting, or worst of all – uninspired by their product.

Not everyone is a natural comedian – but everyone can tap into humor to make themselves feel more relaxed. Even practicing telling jokes, going to open mics, or gathering friends for a night of sharing material can go a long way toward making you a more confident and memorable presenter.

 
 
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Kristin and I are organizing our last minute booth items for the NACA Mid-America conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We are really working on our Joke Deli branding. It is so important to have a consistent look and message; however, I wanted to dress up in a meat outfit..for the branding. (Less Lady Gaga and more this Bologna guy. Yipes.) Kristin talked me out of it! I get a bit TOO excited and my love of weird dress up takes over. It's good to have a NACA partner to set me straight. Thanks Ms. Cliff. Besides, I can always wear this outfit next year! - Kelsie