How to improve one-on-one skills?


Hi Cheryl. I've did policy debate and forensics in high school, and have continued to do improv in college and work in a field that is rigorous in public speaking, and while I typically feel confident in my public speaking abilities to more than one person, one-on-one (as in, job interview, business negotiation, etc.) speaking is challenging for me. How can I adapt my strategies from paneled interview to small interviews?

Wow, that's great that you've done rigorous public speaking, improv, debate, and forensics!

Do you think it's more a matter of practicing these skills and getting better at it? So once you feel confident with the skills of job interviewing or negotiation, you'll feel pretty confident? Or when you think back on one-on-one situations, is there a particular thing that you can point to that makes you uncomfortable? For example, is eye contact uncomfortable?

If it's more a matter of skill-acquisition and practice, I would recommend getting training in those areas. In addition to books, there are lots of options like Coursera, EdX, (the first two are free and is $25/month for the entire course library). You can also hire personal coaches that you can find online.

If you have the skills and it's more a matter of social discomfort, I would recommend mock interview practice. If you belong to a large association, many of them offer mock interview practice at their conventions. Or as an alumni of your university, sometimes you can tap into training through your alumni or career services department. Also, if you work for a corporation, you can talk to your manager about sending you to training.

I also wanted to mention that I started a new FREE website at It's a video practice platform for job interviewing, and public speaking where you can learn, practice and get feedback from experts. It's just getting off the ground, and we'll be adding more tutorials (like for job interviewing, negotiation, etc.). We're also adding expert coaches so you can get high-quality feedback. You can learn more about it at or in this press release.

Dr. Cheryl Mathews Anxiety Coach