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Never want to make a blunder in professional communication ever again?

Blunders in company of professionals: sometimes you can laugh about it afterwards, but on that moment you might prefer to die of embarrassment. When you do something for the first time, the chance for mistakes will be bigger. A presentation for the management team for example, or the first meeting with a Chinese investor. Training can help, but even in a classroom, there are more than enough eyes fixed on you. How can you make sure your mistakes will remain private?

vrouw_bellen_computer_s.jpgUnfortunately, we cannot write you a recipe telling you how to never make a blunder again. Many communication forms can be improved though, by practicing enough, which reduces the chance for errors. Such practice traditionally happens in a group: a trainee can practice a conversation with the trainer, while the rest watches. Everyone will see them practice and everyone will see them make mistakes. People however, adults in a working environment least of all, don’t like to fail. Failing publicly even less. That’s why trainees are often more concerned with how they are perceived by their audience, than with practicing the relevant skill.

Is this how I come across?

In a media or presentation training, trainees are usually filmed with a camera. If you have ever done such a training, you will know how confronting, fun and scary it is. But most of all: how informative. Watching yourself back, you will notice that you come across really differently than you thought. Take your voicemail as a simple example: a new phone, a new job or being stuck in traffic can be the reason to record a (new) message. You record it and while you are listening to it, you hear your own voice. Many people are not satisfied with the first result and choose to record it again. It’s interesting that being confronted with your own text and voice (“Is this how I come across? I don’t want that!”) triggers an automatic process of improvement and refinement.

What should be improved

Nowadays, the video role play is the main component of many online training programs. Training with video role plays combines the mechanism of self-reflection with the absence of an audience and the possibility to practice unlimitedly. People react (to the manager or the Chinese investor for example) and watch themselves. Almost no one is satisfied with the first result. The trainee wonders what should be improved and reads the tips again. The next time will be more smooth and when the third recording is perfect, it’s shared with the trainer/coach and, possibly, colleagues.

Preventing pitfalls

Despite the safety of video role plays, trainees will have to get used to feeling comfortable during recording and watching their reaction. So make sure that trainees aren’t thrown into the deep end right away, but do stimulate them to take a step outside of their comfort zone. The fact that everyone does it, will make it normal. Exchanging recordings stimulates mutual learning. Giving and receiving feedback increases the enthusiasm and creates a buzz. In this way, everyone can shine when they’re in public.

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About this blog

Professional communication is an art. We want to help people reach an unexpected level of competence and as a result become more comfortable, happy, effective and successful in all possible areas of professional communication. We support organisations training their employees in this. Here you'll find our insights.