How the VP Debates Can Make You Better In Job Interviews

AP Photo Pool/Michael Reynolds

Last week, I wrote about what the first presidential debate can teach public speakers. This time around, I decided to switch gears a bit and consider the vice presidential debate with an eye toward those in Guns-land who are currently (or hoping to be) interviewing for gigs. Because I found myself traveling home via NJ Transit during the debate itself, I was forced to follow the whole thing on Twitter using a CNN hash tag. But being left to my devices gave me a great perspective on what TV audiences found most affecting, effective, distracting, and annoying – much of it focusing on Joe Biden and Paul Ryan’s presentational styles. When it was all said and done, I came away with four themes interviewees can learn from.    Read More →

There’s Still Time! Submit Your #Presentastrophe and Win a Free Seat at This Week’s Academy Course

Last Friday, we sounded the call for your worst presentation horror stories. While we certainly don’t take any pleasure in your pain (okay, maybe one of us does), we do want you to keep submitting them! The winner of our #presentastrophe contest gets to be the Guest of Honor (and Guests of Honor attend for free) at Joel Schwartzberg’s Nail That Presentation! class this Wednesday, October 3. Submit your #presentastrophe by midnight tonight for a chance to win! You can leave it in the comments below or tweet @TheHiredGuns if you can fit your tale into a tweet-sized nugget of presentation horror.

Tomorrow, we’ll ask Joel to pick the winner and we’ll post it, along with the best of the rest, here on the blog.

THG @ SXSW 2013: The Future of Corporate Alumni Networking

SXSW voting is upon us and we need your help! The Guns’ panel, “Corporate Alums: Why Big Companies Invest in Ex-Employees” is up for voting over at and we’d really appreciate your support. Our panel, headed up by yours truly, is all about the increasing role that corporate alumni relations is playing and will play in the future of professional networking. My fellow panelists are amazing (and humbling) and head up the corporate alumni networks at companies like Morgan Stanley and IBM. Find out more after the jump.    Read More →

Introducing Yourself: How to Get Your Speech Off to a Great Start

Movies and television shows don’t start with the big reveal. Essays and articles don’t put their conclusions first. Your speech is no different — audiences want you to slowly but deftly ease them into the topics of your speeches. (Foreplay would be another apt analogy, but let’s keep this PG.) Successful introductions establish three things first and foremost:

1. A comfort level and rapport between you and your audience
2. Who you are
3. Your point — what you’re going to be discussing — and its relevance

Not all intros fit the bill. For example, you may want to start with the funniest joke or anecdote in the world, but if it doesn’t connect with these objectives, it does you no good.

Suggestions for strong introductions:    Read More →

Give Them a Speech They Won’t Forget, Tomorrow at The Hired Guns Academy

Tomorrow, Wed., February 29, the presentation expert Joel Schwartzberg will teach his Hired Guns Academy class on how to Nail That Keynote: Adding Strength to Your Professional Talks, Appearances, and Job Interviews.

As a frequent coach for competitive public-speaking teams as well as individuals and groups of all sorts, Joel knows what it takes to get a message heard — loud and clear. In this three-hour class, he’ll give you what you need to know to craft presentations that stick, including the best way to use visual aids, some easy tricks to get rid of the jitters, and a clear explanation of why the words on the page are only one part of what makes speeches memorable.

To find our more about Joel and his approach, check out a few of his recent posts:

There are still a few spaces left for his class this Wednesday, but don’t wait too long — space is limited. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Public Speaking: 10 Secrets Every Panelist Must Learn Before Hitting the Stage

Being on a conference panel is like your first day at a new school: to succeed, you need to play nice, stay focused, know what you’re talking about, and dress sharp. The dressing sharp part is on you. For the rest, here’s how to be ready:

1. Prepare Your Points.

Don’t go in cold. Prepare 2–3 points in advance that relate to your expertise and the mission of the conference or event. Think about how you can help this audience. What do you know that they should too? If you can, mention these points in advance to the moderator –- he or she can help you make them. Also be prepared with stats, examples, or outcomes that illustrate your points. If you know a great and related joke, bring it, but don’t force the funny.    Read More →

When to Bring the Funny — And When to Leave It at Home

President Obama got panned last week for a very pan-worthy joke about spilled milk he made during his State of the Union address. Should he have gone there? Should you go there? I often get asked if people should use humor in their speeches and presentations.

Frankly, it’s like me asking my wife if I should whip up a soufflé for our next dinner — or like Mitt Romney asking if he should sing at his next campaign stop. The answer is simple: do it if you can; absolutely not if you cannot.    Read More →

How to Succeed on Panels and Q&As: Make Yourself a “Point” Guard

I give an annual presentation for members of a religious group about how to ensure that their faith is presented fairly in the media and in the rest of society. What they most want to know is what to do during panel discussions, TV interviews, and other unscripted scenarios in which participants aren’t in control and are sometimes taking unfriendly fire. Here’s what I tell them….    Read More →

An All-in-One Public Speaking Tip: Pump Up the Volume

This Wednesday, November 30, the top public speaking coach and presentation expert Joel Schwartzberg will teach a Hired Guns Academy class on how to add strength to your professional talks, appearances, and job interviews. Below, he gives a quick tip to ensure that your messages come through loud and clear.

Many public speakers present too softly, but I’ve rarely met one who’s too loud. Even when I implore students to speak “too loudly,” almost all of them end up speaking with perfect or near-perfect volume.

Now that we know there’s little risk of being too loud, consider what increased volume will do for you as a speaker: it prevents you from speaking too quickly, from mumbling, and from meandering off point. It gives you time to think and create thoughts. It grabs audience attention and holds it. And it increases the likelihood you’ll end your sentences with periods instead of question marks — a strong indication of a confident speaker. If you’re on a microphone, make sure it’s adjusted to your “loud” public speaking level, not your “soft” talking level.

All this, from one little tip of turning up the volume — why not give it a try? A lot of voice goes a long way.

More presentation advice from Joel:


How to Survive a “Perry” Bad Public Speaking Misstep

OopsRick Perry’s debate “oops” on Wednesday night deserves sympathy, even if you’re no fan of his politics. Who hasn’t lost a thought before? And the painful truth is that the more pressure you put on yourself to remember a forgotten point, the less likely it will be to come. Anxiety is a mortal enemy to thinking calmly, or even coherently. By the time Perry relaxed and remembered “Department of Energy,” the damage was done.

This wouldn’t have happened had Perry been allowed to use notes. Where’s Sarah Palin’s palm when you need it? If you know you have trouble remembering a key phrase or point, write it down. The purpose of notes is to help you remember your key points, nothing more.

But the biggest “oops” actually has nothing to do with Perry’s memory; it has to do with how he handled — or in this case, mishandled — the embarrassing moment. Instead of distancing himself from his mental hiccup immediately, he allowed it to linger for nearly a minute. If that seemed like a long time to you, imagine how it felt to him!    Read More →

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