Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Manipulation 103: interviews and presentations
I haven't had the chance to use this tactic in an interview yet, but I have had the chance to use it in some recent presentations to midsized audiences. Within the first few minutes, I try to ask the crowd a question and ask for a show of hands or field specific responses if people volunteer. It immediately cuts the tension and instead of a dynamic where people feel like they can sit passively and judge my performance, I am requiring them to engage with me. If anything, they focus their judging efforts and attention on their own selves with worries that I may ask them to engage in a way that they will not be prepared for or that they might mishandle.
During the question and answer sessions I follow any questions with my own clarifying questions. I pin them down. I don't give people the chance to retort "that's not what I asked," or "you've misunderstood me." Once I am clear as to what exactly they're asking, I say things like, "that's an interesting question." I want to seem friendly but I also want to establish the power dynamic that I feel worthy and competent to assess the merits of their questions -- a teacher/student dynamic. They are happy for the praise, happy that I have granted them my approval, and so are less inclined to speak ill of me later.
Of course these tactics can't make something if there's not anything there, but they have been very useful in helping me perform my best, particularly in situations in which people are likely to underestimate me.