Embarrassing Public Speaking Dilemmas (and How to Avoid Them)

31 03 2015


It doesn’t matter how much you’ve prepped for a presentation or speech, there’s always the chance that something goes wrong, even if it’s as miniscule as stumbling over your words. For us recent grads who are new to the job scene, there’s nothing scarier than humiliating yourself in front of your co-workers.

The thought of embarrassing yourself during a speech will probably leave you wondering why you didn’t pay more attention in your Public Speaking 101 course. The truth of the matter is that you’re going to make mistakes; they are unavoidable. The crucial thing is learning how to recover from them. Consider the following public speaking dilemmas, and learn how to avoid them.

No One Has Seen Your Eyes for the Last Half Hour

There are times in life when eye contact can and should be avoided – like when you’re being reprimanded by your parents, when you’re within a 20-foot radius of your ex or when the teacher is scanning the room for someone to call on and you don’t know the answer. Public speaking, however, is not the time to neglect eye contact.

Eye contact is essential if you want to connect with your audience and keep them engaged. If you neglect proper eye contact, when you look up at the end of the speech and realize you never once looked at the people in the room, you’ll be mortified.

This is something that takes practice, but you can make notes reminding yourself to look up and make eye contact at the appropriate times.

Your Speech is Putting Everyone to Sleep

Think about the things you choose to watch for entertainment. They probably don’t include a bland, monotone speaker. If you’re reading strictly from your notes, not wavering to smile, crack a joke or insert a personal tidbit into your speech, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You’ll witness an immeasurable amount of yawns during this small time period if you’re boring. You don’t want to feel the pain of walking out of the conference room only to hear people celebrating that your presentation is finally over. To prevent this from happening, use powerful words and incorporate similes, metaphors and alliterations into your speech.

You Can’t Stop Stumbling Over Your Words

Stuttering is the worst when you’re on the spot. To avoid this catastrophe, take a deep breath before speaking or moving on to the next point. This will calm you down and allow you to talk more easily.

If you’re not speaking in your native language, this can be especially stressful when getting your point across and being understood. Stumbling over your words might simply be a symptom of talking too fast, so slow it down.

You Haven’t Paused Once

No one is going to keep up if you haven’t stopped to pause. Taking a break can be a scary task when all you’re trying to do is reach the finish line, but don’t underestimate the power of silence. It’s vital for transitions from point to point, but it’s also effective for letting an important point settle in with your audience. No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t give them a chance to.

Time your notes so that the pauses fall when you’re alternating your papers or notecards. You can also write yourself a short reminder at the bottom.

You’re Using Too Many Filler Words

Like, please like don’t go all, like, valley girl on us. This can be one of the most distracting parts of a speech. And when you realize people are tallying how many times you’ve said “uh,” it will sting.

Recognizing your habit is the most important part to breaking the habit. Recording yourself speaking a few times and listening to where you’re inserting filler words will help you avoid it next time. Hearing “like” 30 times throughout your speech will drive you crazy enough to stop.

You’re Late to Your Own Presentation

Showing up late is something that doesn’t go unnoticed, especially when everyone is waiting on you to start. Give yourself ample time in the morning – even if that means setting six alarms – and prepare your clothing and notes the night before. Your morning should be easy so you’re not rushed on the road and you can arrive early without breaking good driving etiquette and endangering others on the road.

All of the above mistakes are sure to be cringe-worthy. But if you remember a few of these tips, you’ll have your audience engaged and smiling at the insightful things you have to say.

****Campus to Career thanks to Sarah Landrum for this insightful post!!****

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum


Penn State Alumna Sarah Landrum Named as Campus to Career Featured Writer

30 03 2015

Sarah LandrumCampus to career is excited to announce a brand-new blogging partnership with Sarah Landrum! Sarah is a graduate of Penn State University and holds degrees in Marketing and Public Relations. You’ve probably seen some of Sarah’s great work on sites like Undercover Recruiters and CollegeRecruiter.com. We’re thrilled to have her join the team here at Campus to Career as a featured writer.

Rather than give you the same old boring rundown most people get when asked for a bio, we thought it would be fun to do a short interview with Sarah so you can REALLY get to know her! Campus to Career Founder, Kirk Baumann, sat down with Sarah recently to get to know her better.

KB: “Sarah, welcome to the team. We’re glad you’re here! Would you mind telling us a little more about yourself?”

SL:Sure! I graduated from PSU at the top of my class in 3.5 years (December 2014) and managed to hold a 4.0 my entire time in college.”

KB: “That’s impressive – great GPA and you finished college before the majority of today’s students typically do. Congratulations.”

SL: “It wasn’t easy, but I loved any class that presented a challenge (total nerd, I know.) I actually considered careers in law and real estate and started studying risk management to head down that path before I fell in love with Marketing.”

KB: “It sounds like you’ve found a good career fit. That’s what we’re all about here at Campus to Career – helping others find their passion and best career fit. Thanks for the professional background, but what do you do for fun?”

SL: For fun, I enjoy reading, DIY, traveling, dancing, country music, concerts, spending time with my fiancé, being an aunt, ABC TV, bourbon, banana ice cream, bonfires…one of the things on my bucket list is to see the Northern Lights someday in Alaska.”

KB: “Congratulations on your engagement! It sounds like you definitely enjoy life. We’ll have to talk bourbon and banana ice cream later… 🙂 Last question (and it’s a serious one): Are you a dog or cat person?”

SL: “I’m a total dog lover. I have a boxer and my family fosters Boston terriers (we have 3 Bostons in our home right now and are picking up another one this weekend.)”

There you have it, folks! Sarah will be blogging for Campus to Career at least once a month moving forward, bringing a fresh new perspective to our community. Please help us welcome her!

More from Sarah:

Living Your Passion vs. Working a J-O-B: Balancing the Scales

25 03 2015


Let’s face it: If you weren’t born with a trust fund the size of Jupiter or into a family with strategically well-placed connections to the business world (and thus to ready-made employment), you’re going to need a job to pay the bills. This month’s rent waits for no man, and a growling stomach will soon convince you that working for The Man might be one of those “necessary evils” you hear about on the television sometimes. The trouble isn’t that no one knows this. After all, children are groomed from the time they can say their ABC’s to grow up, graduate college, and get a job. Then it’s a forty-year marathon to retirement, after which you get a gold watch and the free time to finally do all the stuff you would’ve liked to do twenty years earlier.

Here’s the thing about that model: It’s a dinosaur. It might’ve worked like gangbusters in the 1950s – heck, for the last couple centuries, even – but today, for today’s workforce, it’s a bust. Millennials are hungry to make their passion their career, or at least to get the two as closely aligned as possible. Corporate world thinking just hasn’t caught on or caught up quite yet, which is why it can sometimes seem as if the younger generations are career elitists when nothing could be further from the truth.

In other words, the trouble isn’t programming or work ethic – the trouble is an ill-fitting reality that’s overdue for a remodel. If any of this resonates with you, then just read on to find out the three keys to slaying the Dark Monday of the Soul. A work-life balance makeover is closer than you think!


Baby, Light My Fire

The first component to finding a career that you can dive into happily, confidently, and successfully is to isolate and understand your own unique interests. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Strike that – what keeps you awake at night like a little kid waiting on Santa to show up with your presents? Anything you do (or think you might like to do at some point) that generates that kind of interest is worth pursuing. Don’t let people dissuade you, either. If you’re rabid about beekeeping or the backstage element of television production, why on earth would you want to lock yourself in a cubicle for 10 hours a day at an accounting firm, especially when you hate math? Oh, the money’s better? It had better be – nothing says acute depression like being sentenced to four decades at a job you truly couldn’t care less about. Money is important. So is doing your best at whatever career you do undertake – you owe that to your bosses and to yourself. At the end of the day, though, you won’t stick with a job you hate for the long haul, and that’s a lose-lose for everyone. A job you enjoy (as opposed to one you merely endure) is the foundation of your adult life. Don’t neglect it.

You’re a Natural, Kid

Go get a pen and some paper. Now sit down in a quiet spot and write down all the things you’re really, honestly good at. Nothing is too minor or major, and there aren’t really any wrong answers. If you’re good at a particular thing – if you’re skilled at it – then list it. Now ask yourself how you can translate those skills into a career in “the real world.” Whether your skills lie in reading people, organizing stuff, juggling flaming bowling pins, or the skillful navigation of AP Style, the chances are good that you’re possessed of at least a few traits & capabilities that can help you earn a nice living. Nurture them – if you’re good at them, you can teach other people to be good at them too. That’s how leaders are made, and how great companies are born.

Courting Lady Luck and Answering Opportunity’s Knock

The final facet of a work-life balance to kill for is a bit more nebulous than the first two. Opportunities and blind luck play a bigger role in landing (and keeping) the perfect career than you might think. Of course, the savvy employee knows that you make your own luck. Is there a job no one else wants to do? Take it on, then knock it out of the park. Is there some kind of conference in your field? Book a ticket and schmooze! An object in motion tends to stay in motion – little efforts on your part builds strong momentum, and combining that momentum with a firm eye on your goal – a career built around your innate interests (it’s your foundation, remember?) – can literally change your life.

Conclusion / Closing Thoughts

There you have it: The one-stop primer for making a career out of the things you’re good at and passionate about. Keep it handy, follow it studiously (don’t just focus on two out of three facets, for instance!), and watch your world bloom. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Amy Klimek!!****

amy klimekAbout the author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive.

For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.

8 Unwritten Meeting Rules You Need to Know

10 03 2015


Campus to Career is excited to announce our very first contributing writer, Sarah Landrum! You’ll see Sarah’s exclusive thought-provoking posts each month right here. Please help us welcome her to the Campus to Career community! This month, she has some excellent tips to help make your meetings more effective…

coffee cups meetingThe unspoken rules in a professional business setting are the ones you don’t likely learn while in school. You’re either going to figure them out by trial and error, or learn from those who already know what they’re doing. Some young professionals embarrass themselves as they discover proper office etiquette. Since no one likes being embarrassed, here’s a list 8 unwritten meeting rules you need to know:

Planning a Meeting

1.  Never call a meeting unless absolutely necessary. Operate under the basic presumption that everyone hates meetings. Workers tend to grumble to themselves that they would rather be working than sitting in a meeting if it’s not necessary. Before you call the team in, ask yourself: Can I settle this with an email?

2.  Set a hard time limit. If you decide a meeting is necessary, assure everyone that it will be worthwhile. Before the meeting, let everyone know how long it will take. Remind them of this fact at the beginning of the meeting. And be sure to end things on time.

3. Create a schedule of events that can be accomplished within that time limit. At the very least, aim to accomplish one goal on your schedule before the time is up, or else everyone will feel you’ve wasted their time.

4. Do not invite nonessential personnel to your meeting. If people are invited, they will feel obligated to talk. If more people are invited, more people will talk. If more people talk, the meeting will last longer. Do not invite anyone unless their presence and input is essential.

Your Conduct in a Meeting

5. Engage attendees. It’s important to factor in a few minutes for chit-chat to build rapport and get everyone engaged. It’s always nice to begin a subject – especially a dull subject – with something funny to get everyone’s attention. But remember: talking about things that aren’t on the agenda will waste everyone’s time. Stay focused.

6. Keep your phone in your pocket. Looking at your phone sends a strong signal that you don’t care about what’s going on. Resist the temptation to check your phone. Even if you’re checking it for work-related purposes, doing so sends a vibe that you’re not paying attention or don’t care about what’s being discussed.

7. Take notes. Unlike taking your phone out during a meeting, taking effective notes shows everyone that you’re fully engaged with the present proceedings. In fact, you’re so interested that you want to make what’s being said semi-permanent. Plus, if you don’t have much to say it makes you look busy, which is better than looking dumbfounded or bored.

8. Don’t be afraid to get everyone back on topic. Keep your eye on the meeting’s goals and actively work to direct the conversation toward those goals. The meeting will go faster and you’ll position yourself as a good leader.

Transitioning your life from a senior on campus to the newbie at the office doesn’t have to be frightening. Realize that success involves more than what you learned in the classroom. Take the knowledge you gained in school and combine it with the unwritten rules you learn along the way – and before you know it, you’ll be the one giving the next newbie a lesson on meeting rules.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a recent Penn State graduate, writer, and founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and career development, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

The State of Job Seeker Personalities in America

5 03 2015

Does the state in which you live have an effect on your personality? You might be surprised at this study.

Every job seeker is born with certain personality traits, but new data from the infographic below — compiled by Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment — suggests that the state they live in may have an influence on how those traits develop.

If you’re a job seeker looking for a company with fellow abstract thinkers or a recruiter searching for extraverted or competitive candidates, look no further. This infographic highlights the top five states for each of the five dimensions of personality type, and sorts each state into one of five personality clusters.

Some interesting points include:

  • “Producers,” hardworking, no-nonsense job seekers who enjoy the company of others, can be found in states like Florida, Arizona, Utah, DC and New Jersey.
  • If you’re looking for brash, tough-minded job seekers who are ready for a challenge and enjoy a good debate, the “Critics” can be found in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
  • Alaska, New York and California are home to “The Open Minds,” job seekers who are interested in arts, literature, the sciences, and other intellectual activities.

Check out the full infographic below to find out more about the personality of all 50 states.

Do you fit the bill for your state’s personality type?