Practice to be Crisp
People get sloppy. Sometimes people are always sloppy, soggy. In choosing people to work with, the issue of balancing aptitude with experience comes up. There are people who have done a job day-in and day-out for years – lots of experience – but they are no better than a bright new thing with just a few months experience. Why is that?
Seth Godin‘s most recent post is about how things become ‘soggy‘ over time. How do you get crisp and keep crisp? I’ve been thinking about that recently.
As a child I studied a musical instrument. Back then, getting good meant practicing, but practice came to be a chore. As I grew up and started to play in bands, practice came to be something that kept me out of scrapes and made me better at something that I enjoyed. So, why don’t we practice at work? Would you expect to become a brilliant musician by walking out on stage and just playing every evening? Never studying, never practising. Yet that is often what we do in the workplace.
When it comes to work, practice can be more important than experience. Experience comes from doing the same thing over and over again. In today’s business environment that is an opportunity that is increasingly rare. Things move and change. Practice is something different. It involves preparation, reflection, and seeking feedback. It is being purposeful about getting better. It is about concious learning. That is very different from blind repetition. You can do the same thing over and over and never get better at it. You just get soggy.
For that reason, I recently joined the Camberley Toastmasters club. It is a great opportunity to learn to speak more effectively and provides an opportunity for feedback and reflection, with a wonderful set of people. It is a great way for me to practice. Practice makes you crisp and it keeps you crisp. If you want to improve your speaking, I highly recommend finding your local Toastmasters International.
Why don’t we practice at work? Maybe we don’t practice because we don’t see ‘practice’ as ‘doing stuff’, it is just practice after all. Perhaps we just don’t get the chance, were are too busy ‘doing stuff. In reality, practice is ‘doing stuff’, and more than that, it enables us to ‘do stuff’ better than before.
Practice is about creating opportunities to learn, to have experiences where it is OK to fail. That is a radical concept in many businesses. Creating the space and opportunity to practice is a significant effort, but it is one that can provide significant rewards.
What would you like to practice?
When I saw the “Best Topic Speaker” certificate, I knew you had joined Toastmasters. Congratulations!!
Your article about the value of practicing was great. You touched on some important points. The more we practice, the better we become. This applies to the art of public speaking.
Good luck with your newfound affliation with TM. I was a member of TM for a few years while in New YOrk City and had a GREAT time. I met some wonderful people who were fantastically supportive. I even won some humorous speech contests, going all the way up to the divisional level at one point. It was a great confidence booster.
Keep me posted on your accomplishments in TM and keep practicing! I’d love to see a video of you speaking one day – get yourself a camcorder and tape your speeches so you can evaluate how you look, move, etc. That’s what I did. I have a whole bag of tapes (this was back when camcorders were analog, using 8 mm tapes).
p.s. Since you appear to have a heavy background in computer technology, perhaps you’d know how to caption your tapes. If you do, please keep in mind the possibility of captioning your tapes so that everyone can “hear” you. I’m going to learn how to caption mine when I do my first vlog post at my blog.
Just a thought. 🙂
Brilliant thought Stephen! As it happens, I’ve just started using Seesmic (I’ll explain more in an upcoming post – essentially a cross between vlogging and instant messaging).
I am enjoying Toastmasters, and highly recommend it. I’ll keep you up to date – I’d like to do some competitions this year. Good tip on the camcorder. My MacBook has a web cam built in, so I can also use that or the iSight that I have from my old MacBook.
You’ve set me a good challenge on how to do closed captioning (as I think subtitles are called in US English 🙂 ) in video clips. I would really like to do that; if anyone has done it and can give some tips that would be great!
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