The best way to Carnegie Hall

24th May 2016

Heard this one?

A lady gets in a taxi and asks "what’s the best way to Carnegie Hall?"

His reply – "Practise"

Maybe you’ve also heard these too?

  • Pretty poor practise prevents pretty poor performance
  • Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
  • It takes effort to appear effortless
  • There’s no glory in practise. But, without practise, there’s no glory
  • Seemingly instant success in public follows endless dedicated practise in private

Choose your favourite. But the message is pretty clear – to master anything, practise.

And, of course, it’s the same with communication.

Now, of course, we all practise the big one-offs – the career-defining presentations, the conference keynote, the job interview, the request for a pay rise.

But what about the thousands of other communications you do? For example…

  • your first meeting today – have you practised your opening line, so it starts well?
  • this afternoon’s presentation, where you want your colleague’s sign-off – have you practised the exact words you’ll use to get her support?
  • tomorrow’s Update Meeting – have you practised how you’ll update colleagues, so it’s interesting, relevant and valuable to them?

I guess not.

Most people don’t.

But you can practise these things easily. It might only take 10-20 seconds. You could do it on the way to your meeting. Obviously, you’re more likely to say it right if you’ve practised.

So why don’t we practise more?

The most common reasons I hear – and my responses to them – are:

          "I didn’t have the time"

Time is never about time. It’s about priority. There’s always time for the things you prioritise as important.

          "Nobody else practises"

So? That’s all the more reason for you to do it – it’s a simple way to stand out.

          "It’ll probably go ok"

Yes, it might. But it might not. And "ok" isn’t something to aim for. Aim for it to go well.

So, practise more.

They might not praise you for the extra prep you did…

… But they’re miles more likely to do what you want.

Action point

An obvious one this week – practise!

For the key bits of your next conversation, make sure you know the words you’ll say – and that you’ve practised saying them. It’ll make you a whole lot better.

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