Blog

Job Interviews – How to ace them and land your dream Job!

Job interviews can be life changing. There is only a gap of one step between you and your dream life and that is clearing that interview.  You want to ensure you give it your best. In the famous scene of the movie ‘’The Pursuit of Happiness’’ Will Smith walks in dressed like a garbage man to be interviewed by high profile financial advisors all dressed up in suits. He is incredibly nervous and shaken inside but with a commitment and resilience that exudes confidence and a high degree of integrity. His handshake is warm and genuine. Despite the stress, he does not lose his wit. When asked what he would he say to a man who hired someone who walked into an interview without a shirt on he says, “He must have had on some really nice paints”. That cracks up everyone. He gets the job!

If you want to watch the clip you can go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUDKEbX5OQw

On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job. (Glassdoor)

Source: https://zety.com/blog/hr-statistics

So, wat are your odds? 1in 250. This implies you need to stand out during the interview assessment.

What makes you standout in an interview?

Let us look at some interesting statistics on Interviews

  1. You get only 7 seconds to make a good first impression. Within 7 seconds the recruiter will slot you as one of the following competent or incompetent, trustworthy or deceitful, attractive, or unattractive, aggressive, or passive. This is done basis your facial expressions. Extensive research has been conducted by psychologists where group of people were shown pictures and they in as less than 1/10th of a second categorised each person in the photograph. Your facial expressions are critical. Especially in virtual interview assessments since your face is the most visible.
  2. As high as 67% of interviewees do not make eye contact with their recruiters during a job interview. When you look into a person’s eyes and talk, you hold their attention. Eye contact evokes a feeling of trust, bonding, honesty, and someone who is genuine, based on research. For example, Cornell University had 60 students look at 2 pictures of a cereal box. One had a rabbit sitting on it who was looking down, and the other had a rabbit that was looking straight at you. The students were asked to choose which of the two cereal boxes would they buy? The winner: was the box whose rabbit was maintaining direct eye contact. So not making eye contact is not a good thing. Look at your interviewers while answering the questions during a job interview.
  3. 39% and more candidates are rejected because of their overall confidence levels that is measured by the body language, vocal tone, and the fact whether they were smiling or not. Remember “Your best networking tool is a smile. Don’t underestimate its power when meeting people.” (Sue Voyles) and “People who smile more are more successful”. Smiling is a sign of being friendly, engaging, and open. It reduces stress hormone levels and increases endorphins which helps you appear confident. There is aspect of your vocal tone like your rate of speech, modulation and your volume which also indicate your stress levels. Speaking too fast makes you appear nervous, lack of modulation in your voice makes you appear monotonous and not engaging. A low volume will also indicate lack of confidence. Your sitting posture, whether you engage your hands & head all these are cues too about your confidence levels in a job interview.

To summarise the following factors are incredibly critical for you to keep I mind while appearing for a job interview:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Smiling
  • Positive body language
  • Facial expressions
  • Right rate of speech
  • Voice Modulation
  • Volume

uSpeek a Video Assessment tool for Job Interviews

uSpeek is a Job Interview preparation video assessment app which can assess your mock interview video and give you feedback in each of the above parameters and more. It is the World’s first video assessment tool which helps you improve your communication skills by reviewing 25 unique parameters. Uspeek uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to improve your spoken word, body language, word power, voice etc. and give you a holistic analysis, in a matter of minutes.

The process of getting a detailed analysis off your interview answers is amazingly simple: –

  • Prepare a script of the answers you wish to speak in an interview.
  • Record your video on any device and upload it by clicking on a button.
  • Uspeek will generate a holistic analysis of your speech and let you know how you can improve yourself, all this just with the click of a button.

There are a few additional tips to help you Excel in your next interview:

  • Practice, practice, practice – It is as simple as that believe it or not an interview is all about practicing. With practice interview will be a cakewalk.
  • Connect with the interviewer- Just like in a speech it is important to connect with the   audience in an interview. Try to engage in a conversation rather than keeping it limited to a question answer session.
  • Do your homework – By doing the homework we here mean that be ready with the research of the company. Your knowledge about the company’s business, competitors and markets will make you look like you are keen on the job.
  • Dress well and be on time- Well-dressed person is perceived in a different way compared to the contrary. The way you look, the way you talk and the way you speak are things the recruiter is watching closely. Make sure that you arrive at the place of interview ahead of time. This shows your attention to detail, integrity, and discipline.
  • Follow up after the interview- The most important step that most of the candidates miss is to follow up after the interview. It is highly likely that the interviewer may not have the chance to inform you or may have missed your resume by any chance, so it is a good gesture to politely take a follow up of the interview that you have given. Even if you are not selected you may ask for a feedback so that you may improve in your future interviews.

Do use uSpeek to get a detailed video assessment done for yourself. You can go to https://uspeeknow.com/ and get your video assessment done right now.

Here is a snapshot of what a uSpeek report looks like:

Overall Score

Body Language Score

Vocal Tone Score

Here is a link to a video on How to Prepare for an Interview. It guides you step by step through the preparation process and entails aspects other than practise on uSpeek.

Wishing you all the best for you next Job Interview. Do write to us at support@uspeeknow.com for any queries, suggestions or help regarding interview preparation.

AI Coach

How many of you have had the good fortune of having a personal executive coach?

Let me guess, not many. Traditionally Executive coaching has been made available to senior leaders at the CEO and CXO level. Given the average cost is ~$500 per hour an organization cannot afford it at scale.

Yet research shows that personalized coaching offered on the job is 1000 times more effective than generic training/coaching.

Why is that? The answer to this can be explained by the simple logic of how adults learn, explained by Edgar Dale’s cone of experience model:

Dale’s research
  • According to Dale’s research, the least effective method of learning is from information presented.
  • The most effective methods involve direct, purposeful learning experiences, such as hands-on or on the job experience.
  • As you move down the chart rate of retention increases.
  • Hand’s on, on the job continual training experience and come right to the bottom of the cone where the retention rates are as high as 90%.

How Artificial Intelligence can help?

At its core, AI endeavours to replicate or simulate human intelligence in machines through machine learning and deep learning algorithms. You codify a human coach’s brain into the algorithm and build a robot that can give similar and, in some cases, more accurate feedback.

Imagine if you can create algorithms using AI that can be deployed on cloud as a SaaS product you have an extremely:

  • Affordable coaching solution
  • Scalable coaching solution
  • Personalized coaching solution
  • On the job coaching solution
  • Just in time coaching solution

What are the examples of AI coaches available?

AI coaches are mostly available in the Business writing skills and oral communication skills. Some of the apps in each of these categories are:

  • Business Writing – Grammarly, Ginger, kWurd, Pro Writing Aid, Sapling
  • Oral Communication Skills– Speeko, Orai, uSpeek, Rocky AI
Speeko, Orai, uSpeek, Rocky AI

While this is a great start the future belongs to AI coaches providing coaching on a whole host of soft skills, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Time Management
  • Decision Making
  • Coaching teams
  • Handling difficult conversations
  • Conflict Management

“My AI coach knows me so well. She knows my trigger points and prewarns before a situation occurs. My self-awareness thanks to my coach is super high and today I handle conflict, difficult conversations like a breeze. Getting the coaching when I need it makes it so easy to absorb and I see direct outcomes in terms of business results” – Clara Sales Executive 2025

We did backward visioning above to paint the picture of what the exciting world of AI coaching will look like soon.

Why are Communication Skills highly in-demand?

What makes communication skills the most in demand soft skill? As per the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey 2020 the top 3 skills valued by recruiters for MBA graduates are: Communication Skills, Strategic Thinking & Versatility.

80% of your career success depends on your communication skills. That is a tremendously high figure. Why do communication skills matter so much and what are communication skills?

What are communication skills?

Communication skills are of 3 types:

1. Oral communication skills  – are about how you speak and present your ideas and thoughts. These can be further categorized into:
a) Presentation Skills
b) Elevator Speech
c) Interviewing Skills
d) Story Telling
e) Public Speaking
f) Facilitation/Meeting Skills

2. Written communication skillsare about how you write and present your thoughts and ideas. These are further categorized into:
a) Business Email Writing
b) Report Writing
c) Content Writing

3. Influencing communication skillsare how you influence the other person or people through your spoken and written word. These are further categorized into:
a) Listening Skills
b) Probing Skills
c) Feedback Skills

What are the characteristics of good communication skills?

Whether oral, written or influencing, certain characteristics are common to all 3 type. These are a must have to possess good communication skills:

1. Assertive –Assertiveness is about being confident, forceful, respectful, collaborative, and explicitly stating what you want.

One extreme of assertiveness is being passive and the other extreme is being aggressive.

In contrast, an assertive communication is a lot more direct on expectations, action, impact and is willing to collaborate if help is needed.

Assertive communicators will:

  • state needs, feelings, and wants clearly and appropriately
  • use “I” statements
  • listen well without interrupting
  • not allow others to side-track, manipulate, or abuse them
  • stand up for their rights
  • address issues and problems as they arise
  • create a respectful environment

The assertive communicator will say, believe, or behave in this way:

  • “I realize I have choices in my life, and I consider my options.”
  • “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.”
  • “I can’t control others, but I can control myself.”
  • “I place a high priority on having my rights respected.”
  • “I respect others and myself equally.

If we are assertive, we take care of ourselves and others, which is necessary for a good mental and physical health and positive relationships.

2. Empathetic – Empathy means:

  • Understanding and appreciating how others feel.
  • Avoid hurting the feelings of others.
  • Getting in touch, relating, and being sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings.
  • Respect other people’s emotions.
  • Care about how others feel.
  • Express the feelings and the facts from the other person’s view.
  • Notice the unsaid – read between the lines of what the customer wrote.

Here are examples of words and phrases that are empathetic:

  • I experienced the same.
  • I really want to hear what you have to say.
  • Give yourself some time to process.
  • If I was you, I would feel the same.
  • I wish things were different.
  • I can imagine how that might have felt.
  • I can see this is making you upset.
  • You are frustrated.
  • I know how you feel.
  • That must be hard.
  • I don’t know what to say.
  • I can’t imagine what you must be going through.
  • I wish I could make it better.
  • It makes me really sad to hear this happened.
  • Thank you for sharing with me.
  • I’m glad you told me.
  • This must be hard to talk about. Thanks for opening up to me.
  • I’m here for you.
  • That must have annoyed you.
  • We really appreciate.
  • I have experienced a similar issue.

“ Empathy works so well because it does not require a solution. It requires only understanding ”John Medina.

3. Being Positive

Words are free. It is how you use them that will benefit or cost you. For good communication, you want to be positive in your sentiment and emotion.

In some cases when you must deliver bad news, you cannot force the sentiment to be positive. However, you can be less negative by using more neutral and moderate words.

Here are examples of negative words or phrases which can be said in a more positive manner.

Negative Words or Phrases Positive Words or Phrases
1 Weakness Development
2 Constructive Criticism Growth
3 Negative Area for improvement
4 Past issue Opportunity
5 Made a mistake New perspective
6 Failure Learning
7 The problem is… Possible options or solutions
8 Bad news The situation is
9 Facing many hurdles Facing challenges such as
10 Resistance We need to understand their perspective better.
11 Against us They are playing the devil’s advocate.
12 It will never happen. It can happen if we get the right support.

Why do communication skills matter so much?

In a business environment, 70% of your time is spent in communicating with others. Let us look at these statistics:

  • ~50% is spent in reading, writing, and responding to emails
  • ~10% is spent in meetings
  • ~10% is spent presenting, one on one reviews, calls, etc.

For you to do well it is important you are effective in meetings, emails, reviews, presentations, calls. And all this comes under the gambit of communication.

To improve communication skills, we have 2 APPs uSpeek and kWurd for Oral and Written Communication Skills, respectively. We recommend you register and start getting personalized and contextualized feedback today. Within days you will see yourself improving and thus your career graph rising.

uspeek

Go to kwurd.com and uspeeknow.com and improve your communication skills on the go!

What makes for good communication skills?

What if I were to tell you that the most important skill that is getting tested when you appear for an interview is your communication skill? Yes, that is a fact. One of the top 3 reasons why interviewees get rejected is lack of good communication skills.

What is good communication?

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

What makes for good communication skills?

According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Psychology Professor at the University of California, only 7% of communication occurs through the spoken word, 38% takes place through tone and voice and the remaining 55% through body language.

Body Language:

Research shows that 65% of candidates that have stronger body language and interpersonal skills get the job even if they are less qualified. There are several parts to Body Language: Posture, Hands, Eye Contact, and Facial Expressions.

Here are examples of negative and positive body language when you are seated. This could be during an interview or a meeting.

1 . Shaking your foot seated while smiling.

body language

The shaking foot does not match the smile and confident body posture. This is called a body leakage. It confuses the listener and demonstrates how you truly feel, i.e. nervous and less confident! So, avoid shaking your leg.

2. Crossed legs seated in a chair.

Crossed legs create a barrier between him and the other person. This makes our candidate look apprehensive and unsure of herself. Do not cross your legs.

3. Clasped hands. Crossed your arms

Clasped hands
Clasped hands
Crossed arms
Crossed arms

Crossed arms and clasped hands can be seen in two ways: aggressive and closed or defensive and less confident. Either way, they are not positive.

How should your hands be in an Interview?

Open hands and open palms.

4. Fidgeting by rubbing your nose frequently, moving thumbs forwards and backwards. Playing with your hair, ring, paper or mobile

Fidgeting
Fidgeting

You will appear shaky and anxious which hurts your impact. Eliminate nervous habits.

5. Moving around frequently in a chair

moving frequently on chair

The person is shifting their weight from side to side which makes them look apprehensive and unsure of their words. Keep your weight stationary.

Let’s now look at your face.

6. Looking away and not maintaining eye contact.

maintaining eye contact

Looking away and not maintaining eye contact in an interview, makes the person look disinterested in what the other person is saying. Keep frequent and consistent eye contact 75-80% of the time.

7. Tilting head one side or other.

When you tilt your head from one side to the other in an interview, the listener thinks you are reflecting and not sure of what you are saying. Keep your head in the center.

8. Facial expression which is blank.

A blank expression makes you seem not engaged in the interview. You look physically present and mentally checked out.

9. Facial expression of disgust and then angry.

Facial emotion is important. Small facial expressions are called Micro Expressions.  Even if they are for a second, the other person catches it or picks up on a feeling. If you are demonstrating negative facial emotions such as Anger, Disgust, Fearful, Sad or Confused, it can strongly impact the listener.

How should your face look like in an interview?

Facial expression of happy, calm, and surprised and smiling frequently with eye open.

You want to smile often especially in the opening and close. Have warm facial expressions that look happy, calm, or surprised and maintain frequent eye contact.

Vocal Tone:

Your voice triggers an emotional response in the Interviewee.

When you are being interviewed people buy you. Your listener needs to like you and believe in you and get connected emotionally.

There are several parts to Vocal Tone.

  1. Rate of Speech – number of words spoken per minute
  2. Volume – amplitude of the sound measured in decibels
  3. Modulation – variation in sound

Rate of Speech – Match the vocal speed to the situation in the interview. If the person you are talking to talks fast, then increase your rate, it helps you to connect better. If the other person is talking slower, then you decrease your rate of speech.

If over the phone, speak slower. If talking to someone in another country, speak even slower. Open your mouth larger and articulate each word clearly. This will bring clarity to the words you are speaking.

You need to vary your rate of speech throughout between 130 and 160 words. If you use the same rate of speech continuously, the interviewee will switch off because your voice will sound like a repetitive song playing the same line over and over.

Volume: Speaking at the right volume in an interview is important. You do not want to be too soft or too loud. If you have been given feedback that you are soft spoken and asked to repeat what you are saying frequently, then you need to increase your volume. It may feel like you are shouting but the other person does not hear it that way.

Vocal Modulation is the music of your voice and grabs the interviewee’s attention. The opposite of good vocal modulation is a flat, monotonous tone, which makes your audience think you are not creative, puts them to sleep and lacks an emotional connect.

Spoken Word: the following points will help ensure your spoken word in an interview come out well:

1. The sentient and emotion of your spoken words should be positive and joyful. Stay away for using negative language and expressions.

  1. Use minimal filler and pet words. Words like you know, honestly etc. should be avoided. They make you appear nervous and unsure
  2. use data points and key words relevant to your domain This will make you appear knowledgeable and domain centric.

The good news is that uSpeek and AI coach gives you feedback on each of the parameters above. You can upload your mock interview video and get detailed feedback on your body language, vocal tone and word power.

uspeek report
bodylanguage report

How to answer the Interview Question, Tell me about yourself?

Tell me about yourself is the most common question you will find in an interview.

Here is your first opportunity to start connecting with the Interviewer and make a big impact.

Why is this question being asked?

  • It is an easier question to answer and gets the candidate to open up.
  • They want to get to know you in context for the role.
  • Is your opportunity to showcase your key selling points why are you qualified for this job.

Here are Steps to follow:

  • Grab their attention up front.
  • Share 2-4 highlights or accomplishments which is something you did above and beyond. It should not be a summary of your job duties.  Keep the highlights very business outcome based.
  • Managed key accounts. Versus. Managed 5 key accounts which produced $100,000 in new business.
  • Focus on your professional experience and skills which are relevant for the job.
  • Your answer should be 2 minutes or less.
  • It is a helicopter view of your resume.
  • Make sure you have carefully read the job description and picked up the key words

that they have used to describe the role.

For example, here are key words for a Sales Role:

Account Management | Business Development | Channel Management | C-Level Presentations | Competitive Analysis | Consultative Selling | Contract Negotiation | Cross-Selling | Up-Selling | Customer Retention | Deal Negotiation and Closing | Lead Management | Market Analysis | Marketing Management | Post-Sales Support | Product Development | Product Lifecycle Management | Prospect Qualifying | Prospecting | Cold Calling | Relationship Management | RFP, RFI & Bid Preparation | Sales & Marketing Strategizing | Sales Cycle Management | Sales Forecasting & Budgeting | Sales Management | Strategic Alliance Development | Territory Management | Product Training | Key Accounts | Sales Proposals | Leads | Sales Materials

Use these key words while describing your experience. This makes you

look like a domain expert.

For more examples of key words across jobs, visit our website USpeeknow.com.

  • Use reverse chronological order in sharing the breadth and depth of your experience, which means start from your most recent job and go backwards.
  • We recommend the following sequence: PPF

P = Present

Talk about your current role. Pick up elements which are most pertinent to the job for which you are applying. Remember to use key words.

P= Past

Describe how you got here, a little bit about your past role(s) and talk about some experience that would be fitting to the current job.

F = Future

Lead now into what you want to do next, why this position excites you and how the current this job and company are aligned with your aspirations.

  • Write bullet points for each section of the PPF model.
  • Practice but also leave room for making it conversational.
  • Many of you think that by just listening to the video it prepares you. But what you need to do is to jot down key bullet points. Give yourself the opportunity to prepare and think about the apt answers. Then, practice a few times.

What you don’t want to do while answering this question:

  1. Most people begin in a chronological order from their first job. That is where they lose the Interviewer. What this person is interested in most is your current role and achievements and not something years ago.
  2. Avoid sharing details about your personal life, kids, hobbies, dislikes and likes. Remember, THIS IS A JOB INTERVIEW and you have only 30-60 minutes to be assessed if you are the best fit for the role.
  3. Going backwards more than 8-10 years in work experience. Beyond 10 years, the work experience has become less relevant. If you are a college student, most high school activities that you did are outdated.
  4. At times, there is a past accomplishment of which you are passionate and proud. Without realizing, you spend too much time talking about it. It appears you are still stuck in the past.
  5. Going into too much depth. It bores the Interviewer.

Here is an example of a Technology Project Manager answering this question. 

Technology Project Manager Role

Less Effective Example

I have always been really interested in computers since I was in school. My parents wanted me to follow their footsteps. I completed my Computer Science Degree from Capitol University.  I started as a Developer with Digital Technology for 4 years. For the past 3 years, I have managed a project team at High Technology. I play football on the weekend and am married.

What could this person have done better?

  • There is personal information which is not relevant to the job.
  • He does not talk adequately about his professional experience.
  • I used too many times.
  • Is chronological. However, he should start with the present job first and go in reverse order.
  • You have a limited amount of time to answer this question, and you want to showcase your most impactful professional experience.

More Effective Example.

(P = Present)

Over the last 3 years at High Technology, I have worked on 13 Projects and won 2 awards on timely project execution and quality of work delivered. I am well versed in HTML, Java, and JQuery. I have managed a team of five developers. Team Building is one of my fortes.

(P = Past)

After completing my Degree in Computer Science from Capitol University, I worked for 4 years with Digital Technology. There, I learned the importance of getting the customer requirements right. Paying attention to detail in a project management goes a long way in delivering quality output.

(F= Future)

I aspire to become a Senior Project Manager.  Am confident about my technical lead knowledge and team management experience. I am eager to work on cutting edge technologies that your company is using.

—————————————————-

What is good about this example?

  • Shared at a high-level relevant job experience.
  • He followed the PPF model.
  • Job Experience is getting highlighted with data which is powerful.
  • Matching job Key Words used such as HTML, JavaScript, JQuery, team building, project execution, customer requirements, detail oriented, quality output,
  • Important job skills are described which is an attention grabber.
  • He is showing excitement for the new role and establishing a connect with what he aspires to do.

Digital Marketing & Design Role

Less Effective Example

I think I am very creative. As a child, I painted a lot and won many awards in school and college. I was very happy when I got into design. I have been working for seven years now in graphic design. I am so thankful that I get to go to work every day and do something that I love.

More Effective Example.

(P = Present)

I really enjoyed working on Design projects in Digital Marketing.  I have worked as a lead designer for Startup Force for 3 years. We started a marketing campaign for a key customer. I oversaw graphic design for the website, advertising, presentations & logos. The traffic on the site grew by 30% and the revenue by 15%. It was a great learning experience.

(P = Past)

I graduated from college with a master’s degree in digital marketing. During my internship, I worked with an online retailer and launched two marketing campaigns which were focused on Facebook and YouTube. We were able to get a conversation rate of 7% as compared to the industry average of 4%.

(F= Future)

I am excited about this role as it would offer me the opportunity to gain more digital experience and work across multiple platforms on social media.

For key words for job roles, more examples and an interview preparation worksheet, visit our website USpeeknow.com.

You can also upload your mock interview answer to this question and get instant feedback.

Story Telling

What makes Story telling so powerful? The answer lies with Biology and the theory of evolution. A human brain is pre-wired to think in terms of stories. The way we store information in our head is in the form of stories. We gather facts and data and weave it into a pattern to connect the elements and then save that in our head in the form of a story.

In every culture, storytelling is weaved into the upbringing of a child. Bedtime stories is how we help children form patterns in their head about what is right and wrong behavior and community values and beliefs.

The shortest story in the world ever told is written by Ernest Hemmingway and it is only 6 words long: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” What emotion did this story trigger in your brain?

Research shows that when we hear stories, we release a chemical in our brain called oxytocin. This chemical is associated with trust, empathy, and collaboration. This means when you tell a story you automatically become more endearing to your audience.

Let us hear a story:

Narrator

f2Picture 1

Around 6 years back, I was travelling to New York from Mumbai. The flight was packed. We had flown halfway when suddenly I saw a pregnant lady cry out loud. I looked at her more carefully, she was in the row ahead of me in the 3rd seat. She looked full term. Just as I was thinking that she continued to scream and this time incessantly. Watching her I was almost frozen, but her screams jolted me into action. And then I rolled up my sleeves and did what I had to do. The plane took off from Mumbai with 532 passengers on board and it landed New York with 533.

How was it? Did it feel like you were in that plane along with the storyteller? Did you almost get up when she says, ‘jolted me into action’? Did you visualize the airplane?

If the answer is yes, then here is why it happened? Story telling creates 3 phenomena in our brains:

  1. Neural Coupling – when you start telling a story the brain patterns of all the listeners get tuned in and locked in with your brain patterns. It starts as soon as you start telling a story and stops as soon as a story is over.
  2. Mirror Effect – when you tell a story the same neurons are fired in the listeners mind as in the story tellers. Hence when she said she jolted into action; the listener felt the jolt.
  3. Engagement Effect – when you tell a story, it releases oxytocin and dopamine in the listeners mind and increases brain activity. Hence the brain is more engaged and subsequently enhances retention.

How to construct a story?

Every story has a plot. Plot is “what happens” in the story. The action of every story can be mapped out using a plot diagram. There are five key points to the plot of every story:

  1. Beginning or Exposition-this is when you introduce the plot and the characters to the listener. Narrator: Romeo and Juliet are madly in love. They met at a party and it was love at first sight. Their families however are enemies.
  2. Rising Action-this is where the key problem of the narrative is developed and explained via a character and their actions. Narrator: Romeo visits Juliet on a balcony one night. It is a very romantic moonlit night and the lovers confess that they cannot live without each other. Post which they meet and secretly get married. Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, and he is exiled. Juliet’s father orders her to marry someone else. Juliet fakes her death, sending a message to Romeo to let him know, but he hears of her death and doesn’t get the message.
  3. Climax-also called the turning point of the story is where the problem is dealt with and resolved. It could be a happy resolution or a sad or an ugly resolution. Either ways the problem gets resolved.  Narrator: Romeo kills himself, and Juliet wakes from her sleep, sees him, and kills herself.
  4. Falling Action or Denouement-this is where the reader learns what happens because of the climax-or the way in which the problem was solved. Narrator: The two families mourn Romeo and Juliet.
  5. Resolution-where the entire plot is wrapped up and there is a sense of closure for the reader. Narrator: Romeo and Juliet’s deaths have ended their families’ feud and there is peace in Verona.
Picture 2

Characters– are of 2 types the protagonist and the antagonist. The protagonist is the main character in the story, and antagonists are characters who are in conflict with the protagonist.

Example: Romeo and Juliet are the protagonists. Their conflict is with their families and their parents, especially Juliet whose parents wish her to marry someone else.

Conflict-For there to be a narrative, the main character, or protagonist, has to have a conflict, or problem. Sometimes the conflict involves the protagonist and another person (man versus man). Sometimes the conflict involves the protagonist and the environment or nature (man versus nature). At other times, the conflict involves the protagonist against himself (man versus self), as he attempts to overcome a weakness or flaw.

Example: Romeo and Juliet’s conflict are that their families are in a feud, and they are not allowed to be with each other.

Setting-Narratives have a time and place where the action is set.

Example: Romeo and Juliet are set in Verona, Italy.

Theme-Narratives have a theme, or main idea/underlying meaning. Theme should be stated in a complete sentence.

For example, Romeo and Juliet is not just about “love,” but you could state the theme as “Love overcomes hate.”

What are the different types of stories in a Business Setting?

Stories can be of many different types. Here we will look at 9 types of stories that you can have in your repertoire and narrate them as the occasion demands. You can look at your own personal experience to find a fitting story for each category or could use the one we will share now. Most importantly pay attention to the story construct and keep lining it back to the section on how to construct a story to learn the 5 elements of a plot.

Mountain top Story – Great Team Stories
As the name suggests these are inspirational stories about how teams overcome challenges and reach the mountain top. They talk about exemplary teamwork against all odds. In your life and career, you will encounter multiple scenarios where a great team story can do wonders to help boost the morale of a team and achieve the unachievable. You can find several stories from the business world as well as the world of sports. Here we are looking at a story about a basketball team:

Picture 3

Narrator – I joined Woodstock School as the basketball coach for the girl’s team. I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw. They didn’t seem to want to play and as a team they had very poor team dynamics. For some months, I struggled with my job. It was so uninspiring, boring and a lack of challenge which is akin to living half a life. (beginning) One day, I decided that I will create my own challenge and make this team into one of the most competitive, close-knit and take them to nationals. First, I worked with team captain and brought her on my side. We planned a series of team activities like watching inspirational movies, sports matches and events, playing in inhouse matches followed with fun activities. We planned several small adventure camps and over a period of 6 months the girls started bonding together.  Improving their technique was hard as lack of practice and competitive playing left them quite rusty. I organized many inter school matches for them to play in. I knew they will lose. (rising action) The plan was to make them lose initially so that it ignites a fighting spirit in them. That’s exactly what happened after losing the 5th match in a row, the girls were inconsolable. (climax)They were like roaring tigers and they became fiercely competitive. That was the turning point and from then on Woodstock girls’ basketball team became a force to reckon. (falling action) They made it to the Nationals and were known for their competitive team spirit. Remember you igniting a team spirit can lead to magical results. When a group of individuals decide to have a common goal and vision, they can move mountains and cross oceans. Nothing is impossible for a team! (resolution)

Inspirational Story – These are stories about people overcoming difficulties. These are evergreen stories and can be used ever so often. They fit so many scenarios. As a storyteller, if you tell your own story its usually very impactful. As you share your difficult situation it bonds the listeners to you, and they start trusting you. However, you can always tell a story of a great achiever or a famous personality here as it resonates well leaving the listeners feeling very inspired and motivated. Stories can be short as we shared earlier, they can be all of 6 words too. Here is an example of a short story with a powerful message.

Picture 4

Narrator : Disney corporation is one of the most lucrative companies in existence, with high standards of quality and a never-ending stream of innovations.(beginning & rising action)  Walt himself was fired from a newspaper job early in life because he “lacked imagination.” (climax) After a few failed businesses, Disney’s upbeat attitude was clearly what kept him going forward. (Falling action) He’s been quoted saying that “a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Once his first movie Snow White premiered of course, the rest became history. (resolution)

Customer Story – Sell your capability / skills. Did you know the best salespeople are the ones that tell excellent stories? Sales is a process comprising 4 key process steps a) build rapport and trust – the customer needs to like you and give time to engage with you. Here tell a personal story that helps them get to know you better. Think of what traits are values by your customer and share a story which speaks to those. b) build credibility– the customer needs to believe you and your company c) demonstrate value- the customer needs to see it for themselves. Here the best bet is to understand what is critical to the customer and then build case studies around that come. This is also called an influencing story d) close the deal – this is about being able to handle the objections and negotiate the deal to a successful closure. We will share with you examples of stories at each step:

Step A Narrator: As a child I was always very shy and lacked confidence. I would look at all the children performing on stage and fee sad. I so wanted to be on stage and express myself.(beginning) My mother noticed how I was feeling and when I shared my fear of being on stage, she hugged me hard and said she will work with me and help me have a voice that will fearlessly speak. She made me memorize a poem and would make me practice on stage after school. We got special permission from the principal to do that. It was not easy. But perseverance and hard work paid. (rising action) Finally, I did manage to participate in my school’s annual function and perform. That year I didn’t win any awards but over time gradually I improved and by middle school I was the head of my dramatics club with more than 20 awards under my belt. (climax). From then to now, I am fearlessly able to express myself in any situation. (falling action) That is how I learnt the best lesson of my life. Perseverance and hard work pay. (resolution)

Step B Narrator: In the last 5 years I have cracked 20 big deals. (beginning & rising action) Today, I am in touch with each of the 20 leaders who signed my deals. (climax) 5 of them have changed companies but we are still in touch at a personal level. (falling action) This is the part of my job. I really enjoy building relationships and that happens on a foundation of mutual trust and respect. (resolution)

Step C Narrator: You want to increase your sales. Today you are clocking a revenue of 10 MM USD. Imagine if you were able to increase your customer retention by 5%, your sales would go up significantly. (beginning). Our product will do that and more. Last year our customer Hero Corp approached us as they were not able to retain their customers. We identified the root causes and saw the trend reverse in 6 months. (rising action) Today, Hero Corp’s customer retention has gone up by 30% and revenue by 20%. (climax) From almost going bankrupt the company was able to turn things around in no time. (resolution)

Step D Narrator: I had been working on this big deal for last 4 months. We reached the final round of negotiations and were sitting in their boardroom. (beginning) Everything was going smooth when suddenly the head of procurement stood up and said that he didn’t feel right about the deal. He cited an example of a similar deal they had signed up 3 years back and then went on to describe how everything had gone wrong.(rising action) I sat there biting my nails and wondering what I am supposed to do now. He was very emotional and there is no way any reason or logic would have helped me change his mind (climax). So, I stepped out for 5 min to clear my head and then it struck me that I need to tell a story about letting go. There was a bad experience of 3 years back that was jeopardizing the deal. Let me tell them the power of letting go and moving on and that is when I told them the story of the Monk and the woman. (falling action) The story did wonders. It completely changed the perspective, and everyone decided to bury the past and went ahead to sign the deal. (resolution)

Picture 7

Two monks were traveling together, a senior and a junior. They came to a river with a strong current where a young woman was waiting, unable to cross alone. (beginning) She asks the monks if they would help her across the river. Without a word and despite the sacred vow he’d taken not to touch a woman, the older monk picks her up, crosses, and sets her down on the other side. (rising action)

The younger monk joins them across the river and is aghast that the older monk has broken his vow but doesn’t say anything. An hour passes as they travel on. Then two hours. Then three. Finally, the now quite agitated younger monk can’t stand it any longer: “Why did you carry that woman when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?” (climax & falling action)

The older monk replies, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

The story is a reminder to not dwell on the past in a way that interferes with living in the present moment. (resolution)

Interview Story – Stories you can tell in an interview, real life story examples aligned to the question being asked. Let us look at the question tell me about a time when you had a difficult customer and how did you handle it? Instead of narrating your answer like this:

Narrator: 2 years back we had a very demanding customer. The key relationship manager from their end was very aggressive. No matter how much we communicated with him he always maintained that he was not informed. We did our best to make him happy. We were always on our toes and really stressed as there would be several escalations.

What if you told them your story like this?

Narrator: 2 years we had a very challenging customer. He was the relationship manger on the account. I set up a one to one call with him to understand his business challenges and expectations from us and get feedback. I did some homework before the call to try to bond with him. I looked up his social media profiles and was interesting to see that he had written a book and was a very active soccer player in his college days. On our call we connected on these 2 topics and he did open to me. Based on his feedback we implemented a worksheet where we updated daily the project status. He appreciated that and was happier. Gradually our relationship improved, and I felt rewarded personally as I had learnt how to handle a difficult customer.

Which one is more memorable?

The second version? Why?

  • The first example is very general the second one is more detailed. Detail is what adds flavour and visualization to a story. Detail also demonstrates a skill which the interviewer can assess you on.
  • The second talks from I statements rather than we. If you use, ‘we’ don’t know what the candidate actually did.
  • This is an interview, so you want to make sure the story you tell is positive. In this case you want to come across as solving a problem not complaining about it.

In the second version the character of the customer is built out. Hence it becomes more memorable as the listener can start visualizing the person. The first one is short and dry you don’t really get to know the character much.

Growth Stories – Stories about how businesses grow? Setting up a new team or joined a new team, having a collection of good growth stories is always helpful. Here we will share a technique called “backward imaging” which is used to tell a story of a team’s growth. It’s truly creative and inspiring and serves as a very powerful success visualization tool.

Narrator: I had just joined team Zenith as a lead. We were 10 of us and the plan was to grow the team to a size of 40 by year end. At a team event this is the story I shared with the group:

One of the best Six Sigma Implementation and consulting firms in India, this team is only 5 years old. They have worked with over 100 clients and have delivered minimum 15% bottom line impact to the savings by driving critical projects on cost savings. They are known for their accurate identification and analysis of key problem areas in a business. From infrastructure to power sector, services, and retail they have successfully demonstrated the power of six sigma They started as a team of 10 consultant and today are over 100. They are Team Zenith.

I received a standing ovation. My story created such a powerful visual image in the team members that they were completely sold and from then on, my task as a leader became simpler.

Funny Stories – Humorous stories which help in ice breaking. These are usually short stories. Here is an example:

Narrator: On a long plane trip, a woman is sitting next to a lawyer. She wants to sleep, but the lawyer does not stop talking…

“Let’s play a game” – he suggests.

The woman ignores him.

“To make it interesting” – he continues – “if I answer incorrectly to your question, I’ll pay you $50. If you answer incorrectly to my question, you pay me $5.”

The woman agrees, and the lawyer asks the first question.

“What is the distance between Earth and the Moon?”

The woman hands him $5. Now it’s her turn.

“What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?”

The lawyer is astonished. He frantically surfs the Internet, searches his pocket encyclopedia and asks his scientist friends. He finds nothing. Hours later, when finally giving up looking for the answer, he wakes the woman, hands her $50 and asks:

“So, what is the answer?”

Without saying a word, she hands him $5 and goes back to sleep.

Funny stories are a great way to warm up your audience however they are not everyone’s cup of tea. They could be risky at the beginning of a presentation as if your joke falls flat right at the beginning it doesn’t start your, presentation well. You might want to add in a funny story in the middle or towards the end.

However, if you do have a funny bone inside you feel free to use this form of story telling to enthrall your audience.

Coaching Stories – Stories about mastering skills. This is a story of a one of the richest men in the world. He had extreme fear of public speaking.

Narrator: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett was “terrified” of public speaking. He was so nervous, in fact, that he would arrange and choose his college classes to avoid having to get up in front of people. At the age of 21, Buffett started his career in the securities business in Omaha and decided that to reach his full potential, he had to overcome his fear of public speaking. (beginning)

Buffett enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course with another thirty people who, like him, were “terrified of getting up and saying our names.”
“In my office, you will not see the degree that I got from the University of Nebraska. You will not see the master’s degree I got from Columbia University. But you will see the award certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie Course,” Buffett said in the HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett. (rising action)

Buffett didn’t overcome his stage fright in an instant.

He completed the Dale Carnegie course on his second try. The certificate he proudly displays in his office reads: “Warren E. Buffett has successful completed the Dale Carnegie Course in effective speaking, leadership training, and the art of winning friends and influencing people. January 13, 1952.” (climax)

Buffett followed up the course by teaching an investment class at a local college. He realized that he needed to shore up his confidence by just doing it–over and over in front of small groups.

“Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills-public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.” (falling action)

Buffett’s point is that mastering the art of public speaking is the single greatest skill to boost your career. (resolution)

Conflict Stories – Stories about conflicts that got resolved. In personal and work life, we often face situations of conflict. These can be stressful times, however if you use stories as your guides for wisdom, patience, maturity and understanding the tension can metamorphosize into an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork. Here is an example of a good story to narrate and draw learnings from:

Narrator: There was a father who left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will.

Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third). The youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the 17 camels.

As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with each other. How can they divide their father’s inheritance?

So, three sons decided to go to a wise man.

The wise man listened patiently about the whole matter i.e. dividing 17 camels as follows:

½ to the eldest son, 1/3rd to the middle son and 1//9th to the youngest – How is it possible?

So, the wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9. So, he gave the eldest son 9 camels

1/3rd of 18 = 6. So, he gave the middle son 6 camels

1/9th of 18 = 2. So, he gave the youngest son 2 camels.

Now add this up: 9 plus 6 plus 2 is 17 and this leaves one camel, which the wise man took away.

So, the attitude of conflict resolution is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th ground by using his or her intellect, the issue is resolved. It is difficult and at times, it is not easy at all. However, to reach a solution, first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!

The Winning Self – Boosting your own confidence, tell yourself a story and playing it like a picture in your mind. This is a powerful visualization Depending on the story you tell yourself, visualize in your mind you can either achieve great heights or you can remain stuck in a situation or problem that you continue to narrate the story of in your head. We will look at 2 versions of the same story:

Narrator(version 1): I am single mother from a bad marriage. I have no job, have moved to a new country where I don’t have any friends or family. I am poor destitute and am unable to look after my child. My only route to survival is charity. I am a writer by profession. The last 5 publishing houses I sent my book to have rejected it. My child and I have no future.

Narrator(version 2): I am a fortunate woman. I have a beautiful child who is healthy, and I adore him. I had a bad marriage but thankfully I was able to get out of it in good time. I have moved to a new country and am very excited about what lies ahead. I am a gifted writer and have finished a book. The book is doing the rounds with publishers. It has yet not found the right publisher, but I am very confident that when it does my book will be a runway success.

Whose story is the above? JK Rowling’s.  Which version of the story do you think she told herself? The second one.

Given the resounding success of Harry Potter JK Rowling was telling herself positive stories. If she told herself negative stories, the universe would have conspired to make it happen. If you tell yourself positive stories, about your situation in the present or past, and your self-talk is appreciative and confident you will see positive things happen to you.

Learning/Mentoring Stories – Stories about mentoring a subordinate or a peer or a friend. There are many times we will find individuals around u struggle on some aspect of their lives. Sharing a personal learning or coaching story can be very inspiring for them and is a great way to share a key message in an easy to understand format.

Let us loo at an example of a coaching story:

Narrator: I had a trainer on my team who was learning customer service training. He was struggling with the detail content and I was getting feedback that he needed more depth in his customer service knowledge. He has already been in thee role for six months. I didn’t give up on him. I had him sit in the call center for two days taking calls. Then he audited calls for one week.  After that several of my experienced trainers observed him and gave him feedback. Finally, he came up the curve and became one of my strongest trainers and got promoted the next year. So, don’t give up! Where there is a will there is a way.

Key elements of a good story

We have looked at the importance of stories, how to construct a story and the different types of stories. We will conclude here by highlighting some key points to keep in mind in storytelling:

  • Be brief
  • Keep it simple
  • To the point
  • Rehearse (make a script)
  • Make it conversational
  • It should be believable
  • Sell the benefits through your story
  • Story should end on a happy note or at least positive ending or a positive learning.

How to look good on a Video Call?

Do you know what the year 2020 will be remembered for the most?

The year 2020 will be remembered for most as the year the world went online.

Zoom the online video company saw a growth of 1900% in just over 2 months . The number of daily meeting participants increased from around 10 MM in Dec 2019 to 200 MM in March 2020.

This trend is here to stay. ~50% of employees have expressed their desire to continue to work from home post the lockdown restrictions and many of fortune 500 companies are forecasting their permanent work from home staff to go up as high as 25%.

Improving your video call presence is important to ensure you continue to get the same results. We are going to focus on three aspects of your video call:

  • Body Language
  • Vocal Tone
  • Word Power

1. How to have a good Body Language on a video call?

Body language has the biggest impact on how you are perceived. Even if you do not utter a single word, your presence on the video call talks. Some simple rules to ensure your Body Language comes across as strong, positive, confident, and empathetic.

Smile  – Have a smile on your face. It is magnetic. Remember video diminishes your body expressions by 1/3 rd. Hence online you need to smile a lot more that you would have done in person.

Smiling Faces
Not Smiling

Eye Contact – look directly at the person you are talking to or listening to. Maintaining a good eye contact builds a strong connection. It makes you look trustworthy and dependable. On the video call you will need to look directly at the camera. When you do that it will appear to the other person that you are looking directly at him.

Looking Directly At The Camera
Looking Directly At The Camera
Looking Away From The Camera
Looking Away From The Camera

Head movement – head movement while talking is very engaging. When you move your head meaningfully on the video call it makes your audience feel you are listening. A nod of acknowledgment a shake of approval are powerful expressions.

Moving Your Head In An Engaging Manner1
Moving Your Head In An Engaging Manner1
Moving Your Head In An Engaging Manner2
Moving Your Head In An Engaging Manner2

Micro-expressions are facial expressions which last split of a second but leave a lasting impression on your audience. The flicker of anger, fear or disgust if seen cannot be undone even with a thousand smiles. AI allows us to split your video to 1/30th frame on a one second timeline. Giving you an accurate cumulative percentage of your micro expressions. Be conscious of the facial emotions you display on the video call.

Looking Fearful
Looking Fearful
Looking Angry
Looking Angry

uSpeek a powerful AI based world’s 1st Video assessment app can analyze your mock video and give you scores on all the above and more.

body-lang-700x569

2. How to have a good Vocal Tone on a video call?

USpeek gives a decibel graph of your volume, a pitch graph, your rate of speech as well your modulation graph. Use it to baseline where you stand on your vocal tone.

vocal-700x569

3. How to have a good Word Power on a video call?

Last but not the least word power. Words can create magic if used right. What you do not want in your spoken words is too many pet & filler words, long rambling sentences, and negative emotion. What you do want is to use a good percentage of unique words, I statements’, positive emotion and use some data where applicable.

Unique words spoken on the video call demonstrate a good vocabulary and keep the listener interested. On the other hand, repeating the same words again and again bores the listener and he is likely to switch off. I statements make you sound assertive and confident. If you use too little, I statements it makes you come across as not so confident and unsure. Too many I statements will make you sound aggressive and narcissistic.

Using data when you express your point of view is very impactful. Data speaks more than a thousand words. Wherever applicable and possible do enunciate your point with relevant data points. It makes a significant impact in engaging your audience over a video call.

Want to get your words to sound right. The good news is that uSpeek measures all the above plus gives you a transcript of your spoken word. Record your speech. Get feedback. Use the transcript to improve your word power. Record again, get feedback and the script, improve it, and do that again till you get it perfect.

word700x569

Log on to uSpeeknow.com to access the Web Application and try it for free!

4. How to ensure you are well prepared to take a video call?

  • Make sure the area you are sitting in is well light on a video call. Most importantly you should have light fall on your face and body. If there is less light the participants on your call will not be able to see you well and your video will look dark and gloomy.
  • Always look straight into the camera and talk on a video call. Do not try look at the video of the participants on your screen and talk to their video picture. Instead focus on the camera spot and look directly into it.
  • Sit upright in your seat. Do not slouch back and slip into the chair. That will impact the energy in your voice and also only part of your face will appear on video and that looks very unprofessional and casual.
  • Have minimum one-and-a-half-foot gap between the camera and your face. Do not speak right into your camera. Otherwise, it will accentuate your face, and is distracting and unpleasing.
  • Make sure you are sitting in a quiet area. If you are expecting noise on the call let people know upfront.
  • While moving your hands on the call make sure they are not in front of your face. Keep your hands away from the camera on a video call.

Conclusion

Getting your body language, vocal tone and word power right is critical to look good on a video call. Even if you follow 50% of the tips above you will find a dramatic improvement in how you look in your video calls. What do you find the easiest to work on? Your body Language, vocal tone, or word power? Do share your experiences in the comment section below and all the best. We hope you look your best self in your next call.

You can find a detailed slide deck covering all the aspects of: How to look good on a video call? Here: https://myjen.ai/how-to-look-good-on-a-video-call/