Yes, I meant my LinkedIn profile to look like that…

Over the years, I have been asked about my LinkedIn profile as I have been told that it ‘seems a bit disjointed’. Recently, one of my corporate teachers subtly said to me, ‘you know, there are a lot of theatre references on your profile?’ with another colleague from the education sector telling me that it didn’t ‘look professional enough for the companies we’re dealing with’.

I have taken these comments on board and seriously considered them over the last few years. I even thought about splitting myself in two and having two profiles – one creative, one professional. It seems that there is an expectation out there to be wedded to one single objective and to follow one single path in order to achieve it but, somehow, this contradicts the era into which I was born. With parents of the Builder/Silent Generation, they had little opportunity to follow their dreams and therefore, encouraged me to be whoever I wanted to be.

So, I travelled, lived abroad in France and The Netherlands, taught English to business people, studied the Arts (French, English Literature and Theatre with some disturbing moments of diving deep into the cultural realities around the First Peoples of Australia, Feminisms and Post-Colonialism) and after an attack of being responsible, I studied to become a high school teacher, which I never practiced but used to become a Director of Studies and now a small business owner of E4B | English for Business.

Along the way I have consistently loved and worked in the arts. I love culture and I am particularly interested in the miscommunications that occur when different cultures come together. In fact, as I look back over the theatre work I have done, it has been in new Australian writing, new voices and new stories that we don’t always see represented in our media or on our stages.

So, it seems that the stories I’m interested in hearing have the same objective as the culturally and linguistically diverse people I’m interested in working with and with the ultimate goal of bringing together a unified and diverse community. I yearn to see more representative numbers in high levels of management and I yearn to hear more stories that represent the whole Australia I see around me.

Is it possible that there is room for these stories in corporate Australia? They could help bridge the gap between the older, dominant, migrant culture and the newer, minority, migrant cultures (not to mention indigenous cultures) that always seem to have to go through their period of initiation or submission into leaving behind parts of themselves in order to fit the dominant, western mould.

Is it possible that we are just tolerating our diverse makeup rather than celebrating it? And what would happen if we seriously invested in celebrating who we really are: ethnically, creatively, professionally or even sexually? Your own diversity is because of your special mix of any of these elements and many more that place you in your unique position. Fitting the mould with a perceivably professional profile that ticks all the boxes is not always going to be what gets you the job.

My interest in storytelling, whether on theatre stages, with corporate clients or in classrooms, makes me more open to listening and looking for the differences. It might even help me open my eyes to different ways of communicating, problem solving and just being in the world. So, by bringing the two fragmented sides of my LinkedIn profile together and being a whole person, it might just make me a better communicator and storyteller as the two sides nourishes each other giving me my specialised niche.

So yes, I meant my LinkedIn profile to look like that…

Ted Talk of the Day and Business English Presentations

In this Ted Talk of just under 7 minutes, Emdin talks about motivating teachers and changing the classroom with gusto.

While the tone seems a bit too American for an Australian context there are a number of things he does well and all of these elements translate into giving a good presentation for anyone.

  1. He tells a story. I know I’ve been talking about this before, but this really is the way to engaging your audience.
  2. He paints a picture. We can imagine the black church and its parishioners.
  3. He uses irony. We can see the bored education student listening to the tired lecturer about engaging the audience.
  4. He has passion and enthusiasm for his subject.
  5. He sets the scene. “Right now, there is an aspiring teacher who is working on a 60-page paper based on some age-old education theory developed by some dead education professor…”
  6. He uses repetition. “Right now, there is…”
  7. He uses body language. He makes eye-contact.
  8. He uses a personal pronoun. “Right now, there’s a student to come up with a way to convince his mum or dad that he’s very sick and can’t make it to school tomorrow.”
  9. He has great threads too.
  10. And, he uses humour.

See if you can weave some of these elements into your next presentation.

Click here to watch.

Storytelling and Building Rapport

www.ted.comIf you’re not familiar with Ted.com, get in there now – but be careful! These up-to-20-minute presentations are highly engaging and addictive. They’re stories told by people with a passion and often a profession in the field of medicine, environmental science, the arts and business.

Ted Talks have become very useful not only as a source of entertainment but also as a learning tool. The Ted style of storytelling is effective yet highly diverse in style, so, you might ask yourself, how could I ever learn to communicate like that?

I speak to a lot of people – managers and students – about corporate-level English and one of the main communication skills needing change is the increase the confidence levels towards being able to more effectively building rapport with clients and colleagues.

I remember what this was like. I lived in France for a number of years and my French was good but, even when it was at its best, I still felt that there was part of my personality missing in French. There was still part of me that I couldn’t easily communicate to those around me. This not only knocked my confidence but also knocked my ability to have that easy, casual conversation that usually leads to making others feel at ease, which leads into building rapport and then trust and later friends.

Don’t worry, I did eventually make some friends but it took much more effort in French than it normally does in English.

I am convinced that one way to put others at ease and build rapport, whether in a personal or a business situation, is to have a handle on a couple of personal stories that you can pull out in different situations.

Start looking around you at people who handle social situations well and see what stories they tell about themselves. It can be tricky finding the right story for the right situation but start by observing and then give it a shot.

Ted Talks are fabulous for this. The speakers often integrate personal experience and story into their talks. Take a look at these ones and let me know if you find any others that you think use this theory too.

Elif Shafak – The politics of fiction

Brené Brown – The power of vulnerability

Andrew Stanton – The clues to a great story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story