This has always confounded me.
In sports, teams practice daily for the weekly game. Plays are repeated over and over until the players get them right.
Yet, in business settings we forget that it is legal to practice in advance of the important meeting, performance review or job interview. It’s almost like we think it is somehow uncool to try that much, or to practice what we will say and how we will say it.
Here is all it takes: Find a mirror. Think about what will most likely be asked of you. Practice your answer. Do it over and over, changing words, facial expressions, gestures. Don’t feel silly, either…in fact, the more outlandish your gestures, perhaps, the better.
Try different ways to answer the same question. Use metaphors, stories. Don’t have any? Think a bit harder.
This is especially important for job interviews. I have conducted job interviews where the candidate flubs the most basic of questions. It is tough to watch.
Here is another important tip: Once you are pretty sure of your answers, or you've got your elevator pitch exactly right, find a mentor and practice with them. Find out if it works when you are giving it to a live person. Again, this is legal behavior.
If you know someone out of work, and if they are asking you for your help, first ask them if they have practiced—what are the questions they are expecting, and how will they answer them?
This seems basic, I know. But pass it along.
G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneuer and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.