I want to share with you some thoughts I have about enthusiasm when you are presenting yourself to others—whether that is in a job interview, college interview, during a speech, or while speaking with a potential client or customer.
When we prepare for these types of high-stakes interactions, we often focus on the content of what we want to say. And we should! To put it bluntly and colloquially, you must know your stuff.
But there’s more to it than that. Take for instance a recent informational interview I did. A woman contacted me to ask about my experiences as they related to a specific topic as she prepared for an interview. I could tell right away she came into the conversation prepared. She asked me targeted questions and shared her thoughts openly as we talked. When the call ended, I thought about the pleasant nature of the conversation and how excited she was about the potential new job. To clarify, she was not excited at the thought of a job but rather that job. Her enthusiasm prompted me to send a note to decision-makers I knew that informed them of her enthusiasm and energy.
In another case, an interviewer jotted down notes as the candidate responded to his questions. I saw these notes, and something jumped out at me. The candidate had shown his knowledge of the topic to be so solid that his ability to do the job was unquestioned. The interviewer included notes about logistical concerns and then focused on the candidate’s enthusiasm for the company and the new work he would be doing.
After experiencing these two incidences within a two-day period, I realized that showing enthusiasm helps make someone seem like a good fit. Demonstrating you are the best fit for the job is ultimately what you want to accomplish in an interview. This concept of fit can be applied to various situations such as being the best fit to speak to a group or the best fit to work with a customer.
If we know enthusiasm can be valuable, then we must contemplate how we can be enthusiastic—especially if we are ambivalent about the task or opportunity. How can we grow our enthusiasm? Here are some tips originating from my personal experience and what I’ve observed in others.
First, I argue that enthusiasm stems from confidence. You are unlikely to project enthusiasm if you possess self-doubt. This, in the words of life coach Jennifer Polk, is a “gremlin.” We can acknowledge our gremlins, but then we need to set them aside to take action to overcome the issue. Gaining confidence will hold gremlins at bay. People can gain confidence in various ways.
- Educate yourself thoroughly on the task or opportunity at hand. Knowledge is power, and knowing the full context will empower you to feel more confident and allow enthusiasm to bloom.
- Prepare for what you dread. Is it public speaking? Practice. Is it talking about your weaknesses? Work on your strategy. Is it interacting with someone “higher up” than you? Remind yourself all people put on their pants one leg at a time.
- Leverage body language to your benefit by doing power poses. Not sure what they are and why a power pose can help? Watch this TED Talk by Amy Cuddy.
- Envision yourself succeeding. How will you feel if you close on the new potential project? After delivering that speech? After answering a tough question successfully? Bring that feeling with you as you approach your big moment.
In sum, I encourage you to practice enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for what’s next can help you as you navigate significant events and transitions.
This article originally appeared in Heidi’s newsletter. To sign up to receive the letter for career and writing advice, click here.