Research shows that to reach anything like your full potential in anything you have to have done it 10,000 times, spent 10,000 hours doing it and probably have been doing it for 10 years. That’s something like 3 hours per day.
Excelling at something requires dedication, no matter how much natural talent you have.
Preparation and repetition, focusing on specific aspects of your performance and skills, is all about achieving continuing marginal improvements. Over time, small improvements add up to a significant increase in how you perform. You don’t go from Chopsticks to Chopin in a week – there are many steps and many duff notes in between.
Without practice, your performance level is likely to stay where it is, at a fraction of its potential. When it comes to the range of skills required to win major contracts, that performance level may just not be good enough.
You can’t prepare for everything
Preparation and rehearsal can’t prepare you for how it feels to be in front of a stadium of 80,000 people any more than it can replicate the added pressure of delivering a make or break presentation to a critical audience.
But working to develop and ingrain your skills will help you deliver a top performance in whatever environment and circumstances you find yourself in. You’ll be more confident and able to anticipate and respond to the unexpected. Fewer situations will be totally unforeseen and those that do occur are feared less because you have processes in place to deal with the unexpected.
Are you satisfied with mediocrity?
So now the big question: How much effort does your organisation put into developing its communication skills? Do you see these gradually improving or are you continuing at the same level? Have you ever really asked yourself whether your communication skills are making a positive impact on your business growth or is it an area where you ‘get by’ and hope to compensate with other strengths?
Why wouldn't you want your team’s communication skills to be as strong as they possibly can be, and why wouldn't you want to take on the effort and the preparation required to improve? Perhaps you’re already winning 100% of the bids and tenders you go for or you have more business than you need.
The reality is that great communicators and successful businesses are prepared to put in the hard yards. Have a look at a Steve Jobs presentation on YouTube. At first sight you see a naturally skilled and relaxed presenter effortlessly in command of what’s happening.
Look a little closer and you’ll see a presentation that has been meticulously planned and structured. Read stories from people who worked at Apple and you’ll realise that every aspect of every presentation was rehearsed over and over, for hours on end. Everything looks so natural and unrehearsed because Steve Jobs practised not only that presentation, but every presentation over many years, to refine his skills and delivery.
And despite having a reputation as somebody with a huge ego and self-belief, he wasn’t above taking advice and criticism from people who could help him to improve. Ultimately, he realised that every time he walked on the stage the stakes were high. He wasn’t about to leave anything to chance or miss out on any opportunity to improve his ability to communicate.