Q: Jill, I love your column. I’ve got six years of traffic engineering professional experience in Tokyo and Toronto. Although establishing myself as an immigrant has been very difficult, I’ve also been able to complete my masters at Ryerson University.
I’ve got an image issue though. I don’t always come out as extroverted as I’d like to and sometimes some have even thought I’m a little on the shy or unfriendly side — which I really am not. I am planning on boosting my image by practising speaking professionally within both groups and larger situations.
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Maybe you can provide me with some resources to help me get over my image and presentation weaknesses?
A: Thanks for the loyalty, Dewan! Your first stop for presentation skills assistance would be the Toastmasters clubs, www.toastmasters.org. There, you will get all the assistance you need to help you master the art of communication and speech delivery. They’ve got locations across the globe so you can easily find the one most convenient for you. I’ve often found, too, that people tend to feel more comfortable around people who speak with their hands rather than those who appear stiff and monotone.
A great activity to help bring out the extrovert in you would be a good old fashioned game of charades. Make an evening out of it yourself and friends all acting out your favourite shows, films or characters — again, this gets you more comfortable with using your body language, if not always your words, to get information across or to simply attract someone’s attention and hopefully their trust or partnership.
I’m also a huge fan of practising pretend questions for any situation. This works for job interviews, but also for situations such as a first date, an office presentation, or even simply a networking environment.
Before you get there, throw several possible questions you might be asked in a hat (get a friend to help create the questions, too, so that you can get an objective perspective) and then try to answer them as casually as you would had you encountered them in real life. I’ve really found this beneficial for me. Good luck, and congratulations on your masters!
Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.
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