Wow has this year flown by – it’s hard to believe that in just two weeks I will be back at SkillsUSA for the TeamWorks event. I know. What in the world does that have to do with selling? Well one of the key components of this competition has nothing to do with the actual building part. Yep, I am talking about the initial presentation.
I know, as I have heard it before – who cares about the presentation or interview skills, it’s pure fluff. Well that is true to some extent as unlike real life, how they do during the presentation doesn’t matter as all 50+ teams are essentially hired to do the build. However when it comes down to the final score, how they did plays a big part, just like in real life – did they do enough to win the medal, get the job or the contract?
“You only get one chance to make a great first impression”
No truer words have been spoken, but unlike the olden days where this was mainly about your appearance & what they physically saw you doing, modern times have changed this. Now one also has to consider what impression you made during that initial phone call, email, your web or Facebook site, etc… Of course, this also isn’t the end as you still need to essentially seal the deal; whether it is getting a contract, a job, or maybe even going out on a date.
One of the nice thing about Skills, no matter what you are after is the tools they give you to help you succeed & in this case they provide the following video; (It is long, so if you wish to skip to a specific spot or just catch a recap, scroll on down)
2:08 Experience – 3:05 Certifications – 3:39 How have you prepared – 4:25 Appearance – 4:55 Project roles – 5:30 Project overview – 6:25 Presentation Tips
Experience & Certifications:
In the Skills competition, one of the quickest ways to lose points is to forget to mention your experience & certifications. In real life the difference between getting an interview or a phone call for a potential job is what they see or don’t see on your resume or web site. For example are you licensed & insured, a local chamber member, involved in your community…
Skills – Education: What grade level, how long in trades, specific skills / competency, OJT, work experience, individual expertise, awards, other…
Skills – Certification: OSHA classes, CPR / First Aid, Seminars / Workshops, other…
How have you prepared:
This is an interesting one as Skills is asking about the competition exclusively; did you prepare during school, extracellular, other competitions, other (volunteering at Habitat or something similar.) So how does that translate to real life? Well this can vary based on what you are trying to accomplish. For example;
- Interview, did you read up on the company & maybe the person doing the interview – while you won’t specifically mention it, you might tie in their mission statement & how it aligns with you work ethic, or…
- Does your site show how you have handled or done similar projects?
Not only can this cost you some quick & easy points at a competition it can cost you in real life. While an unkempt appearance can cost you, so does your demeanor, so be careful about folding your arms or placing your hands in your pockets while talking to others. Getting back to how have you prepared, if you are applying at a company that has a certain dress code, it would be good to show up meeting or exceeding it. If you can’t show up with your hair combed, shaven & shirt tucked in; can they expect you to do it if you are hired?
Skills – Appearance: Skills approved clothing, belt worn, shirts tucked in
This is another interesting one which is more competition specific; who is the team leader, what is each members role, & did everyone in the group add to the conversation? For many this doesn’t seem to have any direct correlation to everyday life until later on life when you might be doing group presentations with other architects, designers, or maybe even grouping up with other trades partners.
While this is not something you might be faced with when you are starting out, all these factors will play a factor on how you do your job. As you progress up through the ranks you may end up doing this for internal projects or even external projects. In the construction field this is where we present all the project documents, contracts, timelines & maybe even list who else will be doing the project along with us as we pick up the deposit check to deliver on what we promise.
Skills – Project Overview: Critical path schedule, project time line identified, turn in material order form, present safety & cleanup plan, material & tool staging plan
Let me first list some of their key points;
- show enthusiasm & confidence
- be creative, use visual aids
- proper posture
- eye contact
- be clear in speech
- written script can help you stay on target
All of these play a major factor as you move through life. If you don’t know your numbers or that you are worth X, how are you going to sell someone on your price? Customers & employers can easily sense when you are not sold on a price yourself. As for scripts, even some of the largest remodelers I know use scripts to not only make sure they get all their points across, but to make sure they get all the information they need.
Visual aids play a major factor now more than ever especially when you are describing how you are going to do something, or showing off your work. In many cases this and many of the items above can be handled in your resume, or for those running a company, your company’s website. So take a good look at all the items above and see if you can cover them in advance. Let me also quickly add, as we are dealing with visuals, always make sure anything in print is proof read.
For all the instructors & teachers out there that do consider these soft skills, you are right but without them life can be awfully hard. Isn’t it best for them to learn & practice them early on instead of them looking like a deer in the headlights when it really counts? Selling them short not only hurts the students in competition but more importantly later on in life as they can be left wondering why am I not….
In essence you are always selling, whether it is about your ability to do something, your companies, or just an idea. Shoot as you progress through your careers, you will quickly learn that many of the interviews are actually a two-way street as you are also evaluating the company or customer to make sure that it is also a good fit for you. Best of luck & enjoy your coffee