It takes effort to appear effortless

23rd April 2013

Last week, a chat with one of my friends went something like this:

  • Me: I’ve got to do lots of prep for tomorrow’s masterclass
  • Him: Why do you always do so much prep? You’ve been doing this job for years. And it always seems to go ok
  • Me: That’s the reason it always goes ok… because I always prep

Think of the best communication that you ever delivered. I imagine you prepared well for it.

And when something didn’t go as planned? I guess you could have prepared better.

Everyone knows it takes effort to appear effortless. So why don’t people prepare more? Is it…

…“No time”?

  • My response to this: it takes less time to prepare than it does to fix things when your unprepared communication doesn’t work

…“Not in the diary”?

  • My response – and this won’t surprise you: diarise it! And when people then say “But I’ve no time in my diary to even put prep in”, remember that time is never about time; it’s about priority. You can always find 30 minutes if you think something’s important enough

…“I thought it would be ok”?

  • My response: sometimes people analyse whether prep’s needed, decide it isn’t, then realise later they should have prepared more. If so, learn for next time (as the saying goes: make a mistake once, it’s learning; make it twice, it’s a mistake; keep making it, then it’s daft). Sometimes, of course, people don’t analyse properly, and just assume it will be ok. This is never a good idea

To tweak a famous phrase: ‘some communications are more equal than others’. You have to prepare for these. You’ve seen preparation works for you in the past. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking: “preparation worked so well last time, I never did it again”.

Action Point

Like actors who don’t fully know their lines, if you’re concentrating too much on what words come next, you’re not concentrating enough on the audience. So, identify your next key communication, and diarise enough prep time for it.

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