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Pitching Yourself To Employers As A PhD (Cheeky Scientist Radio)


Skip ahead to:
2:45 – Show Me the Data
13:55 – Advanced Pitching & Communication Strategies w/Bill McGowan
51:22 – Transitioning Into A Scientist Position w/Tapan Shah, Ph.D.
1:02:10 – How To Get Hired As A Consultant In Industry w/Patricía Silva, Ph.D.

Are you confident with your elevator pitch?

Do you project confidence when you communicate with potential employers? 

In this episode of Cheeky Scientist Radio, Bill McGowan, Founder and CEO of Clarity Media Group and a two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist will share key insights into how you can master your elevator pitch and be more confident every time you open your mouth to speak.

About Our Guest

Bill McGowan, Founder and CEO of Clarity Media Group, is a two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist who has produced and reported for ABC News 20/20; CBS News 48 Hours, Dow Jones Television and MSNBC. In front of the camera, he has anchored hundreds of hours of news and information programming and has conducted thousands of interviews with newsmakers, CEO’s, celebrities, doctors, book authors, attorneys, and professional athletes. Bill now uses that experience to coach clients on how to exude more confidence and command on television and in front of an audience. Those he has trained include Eli Manning, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Welch, Mary J. Blige, Karlie Kloss, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the CEOs of Facebook, Airbnb, Snapchat, Coach, Spotify, Calvin Klein, Lyft, Sesame Workshop, Whole Foods, etc. He gets clients ready by sharing his insights into the distinctive styles and tactics of different interviewers. As part of his coaching, he helps clients find their authentic narrative and then teaches the necessary skills to enable them to deliver it with passion and persuasiveness. He is also the author of “Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time” published by Harper Collins in 2014.

In this podcast, you’ll find:

Show Me The Data – Why conveying confidence matters and the importance of good communication

Elevate Your Elevator Pitch – Award winning journalist Bill McGowan shares key strategies for exuding confidence and perfecting your elevator pitch to get hired

Key Takeaways

1. It’s essential to have a plan for the first few sentences that come out of your mouth.

2. Take the pulse of the room to fully understand your audience and make your presentation more engaging for them.

3. Get some large note cards and create a ‘GPS for your mouth’ that you can reference during a talk.

More About This Show

As PhDs, you have the technical skills that you need. You are very intellectually sound and you excel intellectually in terms of technical details,  logic, work ethic, autonomy. But as a PhD, you haven’t had a lot of behavioral practice is in terms of your softer skills, such as communication. You have them, of course, but you’re not used to talking about them. You’re certainly not used to pitching them to employers or other people. How you carry yourself, how you present, how you speak all of these different things really matter. That’s why we have our special guest for this episode, Bill McGowan.

Bill McGowan is the founder and CEO of Clarity Media Group, a two time Emmy award winning journalist who has produced and reported for ABC News 20/20, CBS News 48 Hours, Dow Jones, television, and MSNBC. He has anchored hundreds of hours of news and information programming, and has conducted thousands of interviews with news makers, CEOs, celebrities, doctors. He now uses his experience to coach clients to exude more confidence, to command, whether it’s on television for an audience, or for all of you when you are speaking in front of potential employers. In this episode he teaches you, very practically, how to pitch yourself effectively no matter the situation.

Why Great Communication Matters

In a survey of the executive perceptions of the top 10 soft skills needed in today’s workplace 93% of employers rated integrity as extremely important and 91% rated communication as extremely important. Integrity and communication were the top 2 soft skills according to the executives surveyed. 

A McKinsey & Company study found that improved communication and collaboration through the use of social communication technologies could raise the productivity of workers by 20 to 25%. When communication is smooth everyone is able to work more effectively. 

How To Communicate More Confidently: A Conversation with Bill McGowan

Isaiah: What are some of the things that you tell someone who’s never been in a high stakes communication situation before? What should they focus on? 

Bill: I’m amazed at how many people go into these situations without a game plan for the first two or three sentences that come out of their mouth. They might have a very firm idea what the official beginning of their pitch is, or the official beginning of the presentation, but there’s this gap of getting up to cruising altitude that a lot of people leave completely to spontaneity.

The first thing that pops into their head, and in my mind, that’s a crucial mistake because the first eight to 10 seconds are absolutely vital. You have to nail those first two sentences or people make a dozen value judgments about you.

Are you worth listening to? Do you have credibility? Do you know your stuff? And I find people get off to a very bumpy start because they’re not going according to their game plan, and it means even knowing what that little small talk might be.

I was just in London and over there the first minute that you meet people, it’s always about the weather. Everybody’s talking about the weather, so how do you get from the weather, into what you’re there to talk about? And I said, well, you actually need some kind of segue way line where you know this is gonna be the little small talk, you need to think that through ahead of time. How do I transition and segue way from that small talk banter about the weather into something that gets me started on what I’m there to talk about. That should not be left to chance if you really, really want to be good at this.

Isaiah: How do you balance understanding and communicating to a specific audience as you are pitching?

Bill: I often recommend clients when they have to present to 15 or more people and there is a social component before you have to get up and speak, rather than go off by yourself and obsess about how you’re going to do and get all tight and nervous, I often tell people, go around and have as many 60 second conversations as you can with people.

Take the pulse of the room and that accomplishes two things. One, it now no longer makes people in the audience strangers to you. They’re now familiar faces, and because they’ve met you, they’re probably going to be invested in being better listeners. That means smiling, nodding, giving you that positive reinforcement when you’re standing up there, so they’re probably not going to pull out their phone and start doing that as you’re speaking, which is a total confidence killer.

But, it also helps you take the pulse of the room where maybe somebody says something to you over that cup of coffee, and you realize that’s a great way to start. Maybe I can now give it this feeling of spontaneity by saying, you know, I was talking to John as we were having coffee before we started and he said something really interesting, and it made me realize that’s really at the heart of what I want to share with you today. As long as you feel confident making that a last minute addition at the top, it has a real great effect of pulling a crowd to you and now you’re talking with them instead of at them.

Isaiah: How would you start to train me to be a more effective communicator, especially in terms of confidence if I was a PhD trying to leave academia and new to public speaking?

Bill: I would suggest that you always get out from behind the podium, if possible. The podium really is a barrier between you and the audience, and that you might be able to, you might be able to, in fact, time walking out from behind the podium and approaching the audience at your first key idea. The mere sight of you leaving the mothership and now walking towards them, it is in and of itself an attention getter.

Get those larger index cards. Put little bullet point notes on them as to what it is you want to say, more outline form. I call it GPS directions for your mouth. Not a full script, here’s where I start, here’s the format, here’s the structure, and these cards are great because they anchor your hands where you want them on stage.

And, there are basically three things that I think are really important for people to know cold, that means literally memorized. It’s the first line that gets you into the slide. It’s the main big idea takeaway point on each slide, and then what’s the concluding line, or the segue way line that transitions you to the next slide? Because I find that the really boring, non-engaging aspects of most presentations are how people start each slide. People often say “Okay, so now if we’re were to look at this from a so and so perspective”, that is not the way you want to start a slide at all. You want to start a slide by saying “trade is the biggest issue facing North America today.” A short, declarative statement and then build off of it. 

Listen to the full podcast episode to get even more insight into: How to control the direction of a conversation, how to not bury the lead, the power of analogies and much more!

To get advanced access to the full length versions of these podcasts, as well as access to our live training webinars, exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association now.

Isaiah Hankel

Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist
Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.
Isaiah Hankel


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