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Academic Leadership

Refine Communication Skills for Effective Self Presentation

If you want to stand out in an interview or in an unexpected situation then here are a few great tips that will help you to make a lasting impression. I have trained global health leaders from the US, Africa, and Asia for the last eight years. What I share with you are verbal and written communication strategies and interview tips that have been tried and tested.

Verbal Communication Skills
Know how to and practice introducing yourself in multiple settings
State your name with your title, the organization you represent, and the work you do. That will allow the other person to engage with you during professional meetings.
Do remember this is probably not an appropriate opener during a social function. Instead, relate to the person you meet with a less intense introduction. This could involve mentioning a local event that is currently going on during a social function. Ask how they got involved or interested in the event.

Be prepared for conversation
If you engage the other person in a conversation in either situation, ask them about what is new in their life. This allows you to have a thinking break and prepare for a response.
In professional situations, prepare your elevator speech and rehearse it. If you meet someone, such as a director of an institute, a dean of a school, or a president of an association, can you summarize in 4-5 sentences what you are about? Start by making a list of talking points about who you are, what you are passionate about, what one of your latest accomplishments was, and how your work made an impact.
Rehearse these sentences and practice them in front of a mirror. This will allow you to see your mannerisms, to train confidence in looking at your conversation partner, and to learn how to smile as you deliver this most important message about yourself.

Written Communication Skills
Preparing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Response to a Position Announcement
When you apply for positions within the university or for a new position outside the university, always read the call for applications carefully. Then structure your response around what the search committee is asking to see.
Don’t just send the latest version of your CV. Highlight accomplishments that the CV does not document. Bring out your personality in the way you tell your story. Demonstrate your leadership skills with examples of how you handled difficult situations. Positions of today are for team players that can move a team from a strategic vision to successful implementation. Give some examples of how you did this. Assure the reader that you are ready to take on this new challenge.
Look at the organization’s website and inform yourself about what the organization is passionate about. Then, have the document read by a number of people to avoid difficulties in expression, flow, and understandability. Assure the letter is free from grammatical and typographical errors.

Interview Skills
Prepping for the interview
Study your team of interviewers carefully. You can do this by visiting their websites, pulling their latest papers, and by conducting Google and social media searches.
Dress confidently, but avoid wearing anything that is distracting. One pop of color with a nice tie or a lapel pin is fine. Avoid anything that you do not feel completely comfortable and confident in. Show them you are in charge of your own personality and you will radiate this confidence into the room.
Always enter an interview from the liberating stance that you have an equal chance of getting or not getting the position. Interviews are carefully orchestrated dances and each dance has two dance partners. If the dancers fit well together, it is fantastic to dance. If it is not a match, it feels clumsy.

During the interview
A few tips for the interview will help you. Keep in mind that every interviewer will have to address how well you fit a set of criteria that you may not know. Provide them with short enough answers so they can get through all of their questions and be able to comment afterwards on all areas.
Expect questions about your science, your leadership skills, and your engagement with the academic community.
Expect questions that are more personal about what motivates you to come to that city or that position. They may ask how you will handle the move from your personal perspective.
Formulate questions that are important for you to get answers to, so you can decide if this is the right position for you.
In general, if it does not feel right, it is not the right place even if they offer you the position.
 

Now that you have the verbal, written, and interview skills, march into that interview and nail it!

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