Mar 23, 2012

Don’t Wing It

It baffles me when people try to “wing it.”

I see it all the time. Job seekers show up to an interview, and they haven’t done their homework. They don’t know what the company does, why the job is important or how they’ll be successful in it. They just expect the hiring manager to lead the meeting, and quiz them about their resume. That’s not enough.

Even worse are speakers who don’t prepare. Some people think they’re naturally charismatic speakers, and believe preparation will stifle their personality. They think preparation will make them robotic on stage, which is bullshit. They’re winging it.

When you wing it you are blatantly stating you don’t value your audience and you don’t value your expertise. You’re just going through the motions.

Sometimes it’s ok to go through the motions

You don’t have to be on all the time. Most of the time you’re going through the motions, and getting through an activity. Do you conscientiously brush your teeth by carefully planning each stroke and hand position? Not likely. I doubt you’re fully engaged when you drive to work either. Do you sometimes arrive at your destination, but can’t remember how you got there?

These are activities you do every single day, and most of them are just filler. They’re part of your routine. You go through the paces, get the activity done and move onto the next one. They’re habits.

Never wing it when it matters

But when it counts, winging it is not an option. An interview, a sales call, a presentation or any activity that matters deserves a hell of a lot more than showing up. Even if you do these activities a lot, focus on it when it counts.

I’m going through the prep process right now. I am getting ready for a speech next week titled, “Rebranding for the Next Generation”. I am one of ten speakers delivering 20 minute talks at an event put on by the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise. (If you’re interested, tickets are still available on their site. It’s on March 29 at the CN Tower.)

The speech has been a labor of love. I’ve written and rewritten the script three times. I’m rehearsing it daily, and I’ve been getting as much critical feedback as I can ahead of time. I’m doing everything I can to prepare.

I’m sure I could do a decent job on the speech with a day or two of prep, but that’s not my style. I am investing all that I can to honor my expertise, my audience and myself.

If you’re winging it, ask why?

We usually wing things for two reasons: we’re scared, or we don’t want to do it.

If you catch yourself winging it, take a step back and ask why. Why are you winging it? What’s preventing you from investing your all into the activity?

Figure out why you’re winging it, and make a decision to move forward. Are you going to purposefully prepare, or purposefully decline? The choice is yours.

What’s your take?

(Image credit: Svein Halvor Halvorsen)

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