The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

242: Level Up Your Interview Preparation and Presentation Skills with Scott D'Amico

April 30, 2024 John Neral Season 4
242: Level Up Your Interview Preparation and Presentation Skills with Scott D'Amico
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
242: Level Up Your Interview Preparation and Presentation Skills with Scott D'Amico
Apr 30, 2024 Season 4
John Neral

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If you’ve been obsessed with a television show, movie, or book, it’s most likely because it’s telling a great story.

So, why wouldn’t you strive to achieve the same kind of interest and engagement when you are interviewing for a new job?

Being a powerful storyteller is more important than ever. Whether you are a shy introvert or a magnanimous extrovert, everyone can benefit from being a better storyteller or presenter, and my guest today is going to help you do that.

I’m joined by the President of Communispond, Scott D’Amico. In this episode, Scott shares one of his top public speaking strategies, “Deliver one thought to one set of eyes,” and how that can help you during your next Zoom or panel interview. Plus, Scott and I talk about how to help you calm your nerves, stop losing your train of thought, and why being clear and concise in your storytelling and communication is your best move during your next job interview or presentation.

Connect with Scott D'Amico
Learn More About Communispond | LinkedIn | Podcast 

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

If you’ve been obsessed with a television show, movie, or book, it’s most likely because it’s telling a great story.

So, why wouldn’t you strive to achieve the same kind of interest and engagement when you are interviewing for a new job?

Being a powerful storyteller is more important than ever. Whether you are a shy introvert or a magnanimous extrovert, everyone can benefit from being a better storyteller or presenter, and my guest today is going to help you do that.

I’m joined by the President of Communispond, Scott D’Amico. In this episode, Scott shares one of his top public speaking strategies, “Deliver one thought to one set of eyes,” and how that can help you during your next Zoom or panel interview. Plus, Scott and I talk about how to help you calm your nerves, stop losing your train of thought, and why being clear and concise in your storytelling and communication is your best move during your next job interview or presentation.

Connect with Scott D'Amico
Learn More About Communispond | LinkedIn | Podcast 

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

John Neral:

If you've ever been obsessed with a television show, movie or book, it's most likely because it was telling a great story, so why wouldn't you strive to achieve the same kind of interest and engagement when you're interviewing for a new job? Being a powerful storyteller is more important than ever in the interview process, and whether you're a shy introvert or In this episode, Scott shares one of his top public speaking strategies to deliver one thought to one set of eyes and how that strategy can help you during your next Zoom or in-person interview. magnanimous extrovert, everyone can benefit from being a better storyteller, and my guest today is going to help you do that. Today. I'm joined by the President of Communispond, Scott D'Amico. Plus, Scott and I talk about how to help you calm your nerves, stop losing your train of thought, and why being clear and concise in your storytelling and communication is your best move during your next job interview or presentation.

John Neral:

Let's get started. I help mid-career professionals like you find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Hey, I love a great story and I love it when someone tells it, and I am riveted so much so I'm hanging on their every word. You need to bring that same kind of attention-grabbing detail to your stories whenever you're interviewing or networking. Now, I'm not talking about being over the top here, let's not get crazy but your ability to tell a compelling story, and do so by highlighting your skills and expertise as to how you're going to help a future employer will unquestionably make you stand out from your competition, and that's one of the reasons why I invited Scott D'Amico to join me today.

John Neral:

Scott began his career as a teacher. After five years, he knew it was time to transfer his skills into something else, and that something else turned into over 15 years of experience in sales and leadership, and he is now a seasoned executive with a proven track record of driving revenue growth and leading high-performing teams. Scott's experience spans multiple industries, including education, manufacturing and wholesale distribution. Scott's recognized for his ability to align people, systems and processes to achieve organizational goals and for his strong leadership skills. If you're looking to make a career pivot and move to a new industry or profession, this episode is for you. If you want to learn how to tell your story better and more effectively, this episode is for you. And if you're speaking in meetings and delivering presentations, this episode is for you as well. There is something for everyone, so let's get to it. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Scott D'Amico. Scott D'Amico, it is great to have you here on the podcast. How are you?

Scott D'Amico:

I am doing well, John. Thank you so much for having me Really looking forward to our conversation today.

John Neral:

Yeah, you and I connected recently and one of the things I loved about our conversation was you have this really dynamic career transition story and we're going to tell that today because I know my listeners are going to get a lot of value from that. But we always start off by identifying what was your mid-career moment, that event that happened in your life where things changed and they changed for you professionally and they've gotten you to where you are now. Tell us a little bit about what your mid-career moment was, please.

Scott D'Amico:

There were a few what I would call pivotal moments throughout my career.

Scott D'Amico:

Some of them were when I realized, yep, this isn't for me, I need to make the change.

Scott D'Amico:

Then there are also some parts in the career journey where, when I realized a certain skill or something that I was doing or wasn't doing or could do better, kind of the light went off and I started to see big improvements in my career, my career trajectory, and one of those was relatively early on, fortunately, in my people leadership career and I was somewhat known as I was very direct to the point, very business, not rude, not mean, but I was kind of all business in my interactions with my teams and somewhat nervous and hesitant about opening up myself and opening up and getting to know the people on my team truly as individuals and all the things about them.

Scott D'Amico:

And I had a leader share that with me, both from how they modeled those skills where they were always wanting to know about me and family and motivations and what's going on in my life, and then sharing that with me that some of the feedback was that you know really you're just all business all the time and it can kind of put some people off. So when I realized that, as I step back and really learn all about my team and my people and what's going on in their world, it helps me to better understand them and really know how to motivate and coach them to be successful. So for me, that was one of those defining moments when I made that switch and how I related to people that I worked with made a big difference.

John Neral:

Scott, what was that question or that thing that you did with your team where you recognized you were starting to connect with them on a deeper level?

Scott D'Amico:

I don't know that if it was a question or a thing, but what I noticed was that during our one-on-ones at the beginning, there was always consistently, once the change made, that first five or six minutes just of not mindless small talk, but really talking about the kids' soccer game over the weekend, or what's going on for vacation plans, or a family member, maybe something's going on there, whereas before it was just right, jump into it. Here's the agenda, here's what we're going to work on today. So when I made that shift, I noticed once again the beginning of the meeting started differently and then the tone of the meetings seemed to be much more open, much more calm and comfortable, free flowing, and just led to much better discussions versus just a meeting why do you think there are some mid-career people, leaders, who are listening to us right now and they're saying, oh gosh, I know I should do that, but I just can't get out of my way to do that.

John Neral:

What advice would you give for them, just to kind of help them start building those relationships a little bit differently?

Scott D'Amico:

I think start small right, just find one or two questions or a couple of things that perhaps you can connect with with the folks on your team, to start doing it, and I think what probably keeps a lot of people from doing it?

Scott D'Amico:

I know one of the reasons that kept me from doing it was I was always nervous that if I get to know this person, I get to know about their family and connections, things that we have in common, and start to bond, that if something goes sideways in the business and perhaps they have to be let go or laid off, it's going to make it that much harder. What I found, though, is by doing this, when it comes to the time or if it comes to the time, it does make having that conversation honestly a little bit easier, because you do have a personal connection, you know what's going on, you can have a true conversation with them, but beyond that, I think it can help avoid those situations where maybe somebody's not performing, and if you're getting to know them kind of really connecting and understanding what's driving them and what's going on in their world I think you can better coach them to move past that scenario.

John Neral:

Yeah, I like that. That's really smart advice just to start small and find those ways to connect. In that regard, Scott, when we think about your career path, connection definitely played a huge theme because you started your career as a teacher and after five years of teaching you decided it was time to make a change. And we know now more than ever teaching is a wonderfully rewarding profession, but it is also difficult. And so how did you start navigating that change out of the typical classroom teaching educational arena into what you thought was going to be? Next, Walk us through that, please arena into what you thought was going to be next?

Scott D'Amico:

Walk us through that, please. When I realized that teaching wasn't going to be the 30-year gold watch career for me, I did one thing that was really helpful. I started to do a skills inventory. That is, what are the things that not only that I'm good at that are part of my day-to-day job, but they're going to be applicable into other areas. So, as a teacher knowing that you're typically not all teachers, but you're typically pretty organized you can sift through large amounts of information and create relevancy and create connections. Typically, you have strong communication skills and you can relate to people. So, as I started going through that checklist of understanding okay, what are the skills that I bring to the table From there?

Scott D'Amico:

I started looking at what are careers where those skills will be important, and initially I kind of somewhat landed on two. It was do I take the classroom teaching skills that I have for high school and perhaps bring them into a, say, a corporate trainer type position, working for a large organization and being one of their trainers to do employee development? Or, with these skills of being able to communicate, to relate to people, to create relevancy, a sense of urgency, make connections, do I go into sales? And then I started thinking about okay, if I go into sales, I'm really passionate about education and the role that it can play in people's lives and helping people grow, and ultimately that's what led me to a career in the corporate education and training space, focusing in on sales. So I went through that skills inventory. Then I started to map out, okay, what are the types of positions those will do well with? And then, ultimately, what do I think I will enjoy?

John Neral:

Okay, so you get the interview and you're going through this whole process and oftentimes on the podcast we talk about that. When you tell the story you also want to think about in a job interview. What might be the objection? Why might the hiring manager hesitate in any way about hiring you? Hesitate in any way about hiring you? And I'm curious what was the objection that you either knew or felt that you had to overcome when you were going for that job right after your teaching career?

Scott D'Amico:

There were no objections. I nailed those sales interviews right out of the gate no kidding, obviously. So I knew, going in, the biggest objection I was going to face was the lack of experience. Right, it's always that catch 22 where, oh, you need three to four years of experience. Okay, well, how do I get the experience if you need three to four years of experience to get in? So I knew that would be something that I would have to overcome.

Scott D'Amico:

For me, that's really where it went back to focusing in on the skills and then, more importantly, asking the questions and understanding what are the most important things that somebody can bring to the table for this job. So, as I'm talking with the hiring manager and really understanding, are the things that are most important the hard skills or are they the soft skills? Fortunately, in the role that I was interviewing with, they were focused much more on the soft skills Can you communicate, are you dependable, are you organized? Versus just maybe the quote hard skills of selling, of just calling and emailing and working on deals and proposals and things like that. Those were easy things for them to teach if they could find somebody that had the right mindset and communication skills to be able to get in the door.

John Neral:

I love how you walked us through that and it's such a great point, scott, about how the more prepared you are, both in terms of knowing the role in the company, but also how well prepared you are in telling your story, makes for a much better interview. What's your favorite interview preparation tip?

Scott D'Amico:

What's your favorite interview preparation tip? I would say my favorite interview preparation tip really is going through and dissecting not only the job interview but then dissecting the career page for the company that you're going to. And so if you do that, you're going to pick up on some key points, whether it is from the specific verbiage that they use in the job description or on their careers page, or themes that you're going to pick up on as they're telling, in essence, their story do. And then, in general, this is something that I went through when I made not only the transition from teaching into my first sales career, but then when I left my first what I would call sales employer. I was there for over a decade.

Scott D'Amico:

When I was ready to make that transition out to where my current employer where I am now I did a similar checklist. It wasn't so much the skills checklist, but I started thinking about what do I want next, or what do I want in my next opportunity. I knew that I wanted to go to a little bit smaller organization, a company that would be able to move fast and be nimble, where I could come in and affect change. That it was also still related into this education and training space. So, as I started making that checklist, fortunately I was approached by a couple of different companies that they checked some, if not all, of the boxes. My current company indeed checked all the boxes, so it made sense.

Scott D'Amico:

So, as you're thinking about the next opportunity, think through and create that checklist for yourself. Ultimately, what do I want? Is there a particular industry? Is there a job level? Is there a span or scope of responsibility that I'm looking for? And then, as you're prepping for the interviews and preparing to apply, even before that kind of cross-reference, does this job seem like it's going to check? Maybe not all, but most of the things on my list?

John Neral:

Hey there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment, but I want to give you something game-changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes, Introducing the Mid-Career Job Seekers Checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search and if you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation, crafted to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to https://johnneral. com to snag your free copy of the Mid-Career Job Seekers Checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love.

John Neral:

Now let's dive back into the episode. More and more, we know that getting to the interview is either a really hard lift for a lot of people right, they're applying for a lot of jobs, they're just not getting there. Or for some, it's easier. Right, they have the network, they have the certain skillset and they find themselves getting to that interview. But they may also find, Scott, that they're not getting the job offer right. We start dissecting that piece about. How do you actually have a successful interview? We know more and more that there is such weight placed on telling a great story, and this is your background and expertise in terms of what you do now and everything. So tell us, how do you define what is a meaningful narrative, especially for a job seeker?

Scott D'Amico:

So I think, when it comes to job seeking and interviewing and, quite honestly, most aspects of our life, if you can tell an effective story, it's going to help set you apart. And I don't necessarily just mean that you are engaging when you talk and you can just spin a tale Like maybe you have some relatives that can do that or friends that are just they tell you about their night and it sounds exciting. When it comes to work-specific things, it really is starting to identify what is my compelling narrative. So in an interview, that big overarching narrative may be here's why I'm the best candidate for this position. Right, that's my main story.

Scott D'Amico:

So if I think about that and if I'm preparing for an interview and I've looked through the company's website, I've looked through the job description, I'm going to want to start to create maybe three or four small stories that roll up into that narrative, right? So my big narrative is that I'm the best fit for this job. One point of that narrative may be that I have the relevant experience in X, y and Z program or whatever it might be, and you might have some sort of story around that, a project that you completed or an anecdote around that one particular story. Then the next thing might be around, say, the communication skills that they listed in that job listing, and you have some sort of story about that. Once again, it could be a literal story, it can be an analogy. But think through here's my big narrative, what are going to be the small building blocks of that narrative, and try to have some sort of story that relates back up to it.

John Neral:

When you think about the point you're trying to get across and, to use your example, it's here's why I'm the best fit for the job. What are some things job seekers should be cautious or mindful about that might actually derail their storytelling. That might actually derail their storytelling.

Scott D'Amico:

I would say, with storytelling you want to try to be, especially with a job interview, trying to be specific to your role, your impact in that One of the things, especially as I interview people for open positions if we hear a lot of, or if I hear a lot of, well, we did this or we did that. Sometimes people are just trying to be generous and polite and give people their flowers. Right, this was a team effort. But as a hiring manager, I want to specifically know were you in there and can you speak to the specifics about what you were doing. So I think sometimes with stories, people can get caught up in being too vague or being too team focused when they're trying to sell themselves as an individual.

John Neral:

I could not celebrate that comment more about how, especially the people who listen to this show, right, they have really, really big hearts, and I loved your comment about how you want to give people their flowers and so. So it's so easy for them to talk in the collective, in the plurality, but it needs to be very singular, it needs to be I-centric in that. In that regard, scott, either in your own experience when you were interviewing for jobs, or even now in your current role, where you're interviewing people as well, has there ever been a moment where you've been interviewing somebody and they're going on, and on, and on and on and you're like I've just lost all semblance of where this story is going? As an interviewer, do you try to get them back on track? Or what do you do in a case like that where you feel like the candidate's just gone off the rails?

Scott D'Amico:

I do try to bring them back around, whether it is if there is a pause, interjecting with a question or perhaps redirecting back to the initial point. And one of the big things that I will share with anyone that's going through an interview process and quite honestly this applies towards any type of communication is be comfortable taking a pause and be comfortable with silence. Sometimes two seconds of silence or a second and a half of a pause can make a huge difference, because it's going to do a few things. One, it's going to allow you to gather your thoughts. So, whether you've been asked a question and you take a beat before you start talking, that's one way to use a pause.

Scott D'Amico:

If you are going through and giving an answer, taking a pause will allow you to continue to collect your thoughts. It's going to eliminate a lot of the ums and uhs and the wells, those what we call non-words that really drain your power and your confidence when you're speaking and presenting. And then the third thing that it'll do, which is really important during an interview and, john, relating back to what you just said when you're going on and telling a story, when you pause, that's gonna give the person across the table or on the other side of the camera the opportunity to ask a question or to interject, so you may have misunderstood and weren't answering the right thing. You weren't answering directly, you were just going on too long or, quite honestly, perhaps you already answered their question and you were still going. So taking those pauses is important for a number of reasons, and the idea of knowing when to stop quote selling is important In a sales conversation. Same thing goes for an interview Really being conscious of and knowing when I need to stop talking.

John Neral:

Scott, fill in the blank. For me, telling a compelling story is a blank compelling or telling a compelling story is a blank.

Scott D'Amico:

Telling a compelling story is a game changer, why Stories really help to connect with people on an emotional level, and it doesn't have to be a tearjerker story.

Scott D'Amico:

But for the most part, people are going to make decisions with their heart. They're going to make decisions based on emotions and if you can use a story to connect with somebody, whether it is simply something that they've experienced in their life good, bad, indifferent or a concept that they're familiar with it really takes you to the next level because you create a connection with somebody. And when you're familiar with, it really takes you to the next level. Because you create a connection with somebody. And when you're interviewing with folks, having that connection is important because you're going to be working with somebody. You know a big portion of your life right, if you think about it, a third of our day at minimum is spent at work, so you really want to make sure that you have a strong connection and can relate to the person that you're working with, that you have a strong connection and can relate to the person that you're working with, when somebody learns how to tell a compelling story in the way that you teach people how to do.

John Neral:

And one of the things that you shared with me previously and this can be applicable for somebody who's on a stage doing a presentation at a panel interview, where they're in person and they're in a room with a handful, if not more, people who are all asking them questions One of the things you shared with me was to deliver one thought for one set of eyes Mm-hmm, tell us why that's such a powerful skill.

Scott D'Amico:

Delivering one thought to one set of eyes does a number of incredibly important things when you are communicating and this can be, as you mentioned, panel interview, on stage, giving a presentation perhaps, maybe to a hiring committee, or in front of a large audience. I use these skills on conversations like this, on a phone call with my family. So a few things that it does. Typically when people are presenting and, I would say, likely in interviews, especially if it's a group or a panel interview, they're nervous. When you're nervous, you typically start to talk faster. When you talk faster, you get more nervous. You tend to lose your train of thought and that's when those non-words that we talked about a little bit ago start creeping in. The ums, the ahs, the likes, the wells, the so's pulls away from your power and credibility.

Scott D'Amico:

So if I'm delivering one thought to one set of eyes, so, john, I'm going to deliver this first thought to you, then I'm going to be quiet and find the next person to talk to and deliver my next thought. And then my next thought. It's forcing me to pause because when I'm breathing and I'm trying to find that next person, I'm not talking. So when I'm not talking, I'm not filling it with the ums and the ahs. My breathing is going to be under control, it's going to bring those nerve levels down and then my brain, ultimately, is going to be able to keep up with my mouth. So you're going to be a lot more clear and concise in your communications.

Scott D'Amico:

So, beyond just doing it in a panel interview and a presentation on the monitor that I have in front of me at my desk at all times, I have little cartoon eyes, little stickers that stick up there in each corner. So when I'm doing a Zoom call like this, I can see those eyes out of kind of my peripherals and it's a reminder to me, honestly, just to slow down. It reminds me of one thought, to one set of eyes. It's just a trigger that helps me to pause. Same thing, if I'm just on a phone call with someone, seeing those triggers, that idea of one thought, one set of eyes slow it down, pause, breathe, and you'll notice a big impact in your communication.

John Neral:

That is such a great tip for anyone who is delivering any kind of presentation or panel interview, for the sole purpose alone of calming your nerves and just getting your breath under control. Yes, which is just. It's fabulous, so very good. Well, scott, as we start wrapping up here, I'd love to know from you what advice would you give someone to help them build their mid-career GPS. It can be something you've shared already, it could be something you haven't had a chance to talk about yet, but what advice would you give to help them build their mid-career GPS?

Scott D'Amico:

I would say there's probably two or three big things. The first one is what I talked about earlier with those checklists. One, identifying your skills checklist what are the transferable skills that I have that I can take with me? That might not be job or industry specific. So if I'm a computer programmer and I know these languages, great. But beyond that, what are the soft skills that I can take with me that are going to apply to multiple careers?

Scott D'Amico:

The second thing is, as you are looking for the next opportunity, create that inventory as to really what am I looking for. Am I looking just for a job? Am I looking for a place to round out my career, where I'm going to be there long-term? Is it financially motivated? And then, what are the things that I'm looking for at this company? Is it development? Is it growth? Is it to be able to get away from so much bureaucracy and red tape? So you do those two things that I think really hone in on your communication skills. That's above all else. You can put in the application, get the interview, but if you get into that interview and you're not able to effectively communicate and articulate why you're the best candidate for that role in a clear, confident and concise manner really doesn't matter. Chances of you standing out in a competitive job market and landing the job are going to be a lot lower than if you really have those strong communication skills.

John Neral:

Scott, you've offered so many valuable tips and ideas, and I just love how you compartmentalized everything so well. Today, during this conversation, you modeled for us exactly what it is to tell a great story, so I thank you for that. If people want to connect with you, find you, learn more about you, I'm going to turn the mic over to you right now. Please share with us all of the wonderful places where people can find and follow and connect with you.

Scott D'Amico:

Well, I appreciate the kind words, john, and likewise really enjoyed being here and enjoyed the conversation that you led so eloquently. Best way to connect with me would be on LinkedIn. Scott D'Amico and I'm sure John can include a link in the show notes to my LinkedIn profile. That's the best way to connect On there. I routinely put out tips and strategies around how to develop those skills and from there you'll be able to find the company that I lead, communispond, and as part of that we do host a communication skills podcast called Communicast. Every two weeks a new episode comes out where we have a different business leader join and share their communication journey. They bring things from their career that have helped them from a communication perspective and really give examples of different things that you can do to help develop your skills and grow your career. So LinkedIn is the best way and from there you'll be able to find Communispond, the company where we do our training, and then Communicast, which is the podcast.

John Neral:

Scott, I will make sure all of that is in the show notes. But most importantly, thank you for being such a wonderful guest on the Mid-Career GPS podcast. It's been a pleasure getting to know you and talk to you today.

Scott D'Amico:

Thank you, john, really enjoyed it. Have a good one.

John Neral:

All right. So, my friends, if there's one big takeaway from today's conversation I want to offer to leave you with, is that telling a compelling story is a game changer. If you're having difficulty telling your story, whether it be in a job interview or when you're networking, or even when you're going to deliver your next presentation, this is an opportunity for you to take some time and invest in building your communication skills. For this sole reason, you will make much more powerful connections with the people who you are speaking to and interacting with on a daily basis. So until next time, my friends, remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day.

John Neral:

Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcasts. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS, or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Darrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. Thank, you.

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