Coaching for Essays, Presentations and Job interviews
Presenting yourself effectively
In the course of our professional lives, as students in different situations and as people attending job interviews we have to prepare essays, reports and presentations in which we are judged for our contribution. I offer a service to help people to do this effectively. It has been a pleasure for me to see people achieve the qualifications they want, get the post they apply for and manage their personal lives effectively while doing so.
Speaking confidently about ourselves in a situation where we can be judged tends to awaken all our fears of our hidden incompetence. So the work we do together is about re-calibrating our sense of ourselves and our capacity to reach the goals we want. We may need to face disability, physical limitation, dyslexia, poor educational experience, lack of practice and so on, but if we can get hold of the feeling that by focusing and putting in effort, we can just get hold of the work, and push on we will get to do what we want to do and from that feeling of intention with work, our seeing will be focused and we will be able to create the coherent material that is needed.
Finding the right circumstances
There is an initial anxiety about starting work of this kind and a requirement that you find a suitable environment for yourself and suitable working practices. Do you need to go for walks, do you need to eat at different times, do you have the right computer services. What time do you want to work, are you a night owl. It is good to know what suits you and to experiment with doing things differently from time to time. Sometimes people just look at the paper and want to cry. It seems so hopeless. It is not, as you feel more hopeful and follow through on the instructions which come with the task, it will unfold for you as for others.
It is quite natural to put off doing something which you dont understand and dont feel sure about how to tackle. But putting off an early start leads to a rushed and anxious ending in which you feel even more inadequate and get the results you do not want. So finding ways to start early is essential. Making a programme in which there is time for doing the reading to prepare, making an outline of what you want to say, having a go and then having time to get it ready for presentation means that you begin to know what you are doing and have a way of starting it. In fact any way in which you can break the task down into manageable sections, will help you to tackle the job rather than run away from it. You need time on your side, you can specify how much time you will spend on different section and make a more balanced approach to your task.
The most useful thing to focus on is the question, or what the people you are talking to need to know. The whole difficulty of these situations is that you are producing yourself in a very structured way, and you need mostly to listen to this structure. You will get results by doing so and it will help you to do the work. Keep your focus on the question even when your reading is taking you in all sorts of other directions. Re-read the question when you are writing and check back after you have written. If you know how much significance is given to each section then do more work for the sections that give you more results. The more you focus on the question, the less anxious you will be about yourself. The more you focus on what is asked of you the more coherent your presentation will be. It is essential to make clear statements and support them by evidence or argument. This requires practice. It is helpful to study other people's writing to see how they persuade you of their position in a particular argument.
The process does require judgements about the quality of work required and you will have to find out from examiners, job applications, lecturers and so on, what you need to do to get through. However the inner judge we have, whcih is meant to help us to do this, is often so fearful and overbearing that it acts as an impediment to our achievement, so if you find yourself with an inner voice which tells you that you are definitely going to fail, or that you need to work 24/7 in order to do the job then we would need to tackle that voice and put it aside for a more realistic judgement as to how to proceed positively. The same has to be said for the voice which tells you that no effort is needed and you will be able to get through with coffee at the last moment.
This is where we need to work together to uncover a full picture of your achievements and capacities. We often tell a very limited story of what we have achieved or are capable of. It is very useful to talk through with others who know you way of representing your best qualities, of looking back at the experience you have gained in a positive way. It often takes a very detailed appraisal of your activities and responses for you to gain the confidence to put yourself before others and you will certainly need to address any particular negative messages you have been given by others in your life.
Keeping the rest of your life together
Any person involved in long term study needs to find a balance between living and working effectively. It is not helpful to be studying for an examination and suffering a relationship breakdown just as exams approach. A partner can be a real help, provided they are included in on the process and do not feel ignored. If your work is properly paced it will be possible to maintain a reasonable ongoing life, with enough exercise and entertainment.
Briefly, I have seen that coaching/counselling can be of inestimable help in presenting yourself effectively in any professional scenario.