In central North Carolina, spring is (finally!) underway. Apologies to our friends in the Northeast still digging out from their late snowstorms, but spring in the south is a glorious time. There are buds on the trees. The temperatures are bearable to watch sports outdoors comfortably. The geese are pairing up and nesting. The use of Allegra is a daily activity. Well, it’s mostly glorious.
But these are just signs of spring. A few months ago, when we didn’t see any evidence of life, that was just what we SAW. Trees were still alive, with all the potential of flowers and fruit in their chilled sap. Geese were present, just not as visible, hunkered down in groups (side note: why don’t geese migrate anymore?). And my allergies were alive and well – it was the lack of allergens that made life a little more bearable.
There are important life truths here. A process takes change in environment and an instigator to get moving. And unless we take care to offer an artificial environment, things go dormant with astonishing regularity and predictability.
The same is true for our skills, and since you’re subscribed to this newsletter because of your interest in communication, it’s true of your speaking skills. In my experience, most people are content (or at least paralyzed to inaction) with their current skillset. There is no compelling reason to move forward, so they do not. They are good enough. Their communication abilities — though there is massive potential lurking under the surface – sit dormant, operating on only a small part of their possibility.
The solution is to have a speaker spring. A thawing of the old, and a birth of the new. We regularly challenge you in this space to pursue techniques and practices that will stretch you. The best “spring” for a speaker is a review.
- Turn on that video camera and watch yourself.
- Find a group of trusted friends to run new ideas and techniques by.
- Sign up for a new opportunity that will stretch you and force you into a new behavior.
And taking the analogy one step further, the burning heat of summer is just a few months away. If the plants and animals (and speakers!) don’t prepare now with their new shoots and roots and skills, they will not be able to withstand the pressures of the harshest conditions. The time to prepare… is now.
And that’s no April Fools.
This article was published in the April 2015 edition of our monthly speaking tips newsletter,Communication Matters. Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today!