Career talks: touching your audience with details

You have been asked to give a talk on your career to an audience of people interested in what you do and people who might consider a career like yours.

You may have been given some guidelines or heading to address such as:

  • What are some highlights of your career?
  • What do you like about your work?
  • What has been your biggest challenge?
  • What does the future hold for you?

Such questions can be daunting to answer as you may not have given them much thought before. The risk is you rely on glib cliches and general comments that give little information or any real sense of what is special about your work. Examples are:

  • It’s a terrific organisation to work for.
  • It’s a great place to work.
  • I love the variety and challenges.

What will make your presentation of greater value and interest is to become as specific as possible about your unique work. To help with this here are some questions to consider:

  • What are the common perceptions people have of your organisation, profession, work?
  • What might be of curious interest to the public that you take for granted?
  • What aspects of your day-to-day work are both interesting and mundane?
  • What gives you satisfaction, a sense of fulfilment, purpose, of making a difference?
  • What are you passionate about in your work?
  • What motivated you to enter this field, this organisation, this profession?
  • Have your perceptions changed over time?
  • Did you have mis-perceptions to start with?

It takes time to think deeply about the work we do. We become so familiar with our routines that we lose sight of the detail. And it is detail that intrigues, excites, arouses curiosity, gives insight. It is detail that deepens understanding and corrects misperceptions. Detail combined with passion is what touches your audience and entices them to be like you.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.