How to Practice


Sure, we need to practice, but what should our practice sessions look like?  We have limited time and energy.   How do we practice in a way that is efficient, empowering, and effective?

Spoiler alert:  it isn’t always pleasant.  Efficient practice means targeting the areas where we really struggle (transitions?  opening remarks?  bringing it home?) and putting the places where we already feel strong on the back burner.  We will return to those stronger areas strategically—when we need to put it all together, reinforce our confidence, or simply need a break.  But first, we need to focus our limited time and attention on our speed bumps.  Set aside 15 minutes to work on the sticky parts, over and over. 

My daughter makes flash cards before tests.  Her first pass through, she takes the cards she already knows and puts them in a separate pile.  At the end of the pass, she has a smaller deck to study, chock full of concepts she hasn’t mastered yet. She then focuses her time and attention on mastering those cards, rather than spending her time reviewing information she already knows cold.  It sounds pretty obvious, but the fact is, we like going over the stuff we know again and again because it makes us feel good about ourselves and gives us a breather from working so hard. While this can be valuable, the remaining cards are where the mastery happens.  Once we learn them, our knowledge grows, as does true confidence.   

Find your smaller deck.  Is it smooth sailing for you once you hit your substantive material but torturous making your introductory remarks?  Focus your attention on working your introduction until you can put it in the “got it” pile.  Are you solid on your main points but struggling with making smooth transitions?  Repeatedly work those pivot points from one subject area to the next. Practicing the sticky stuff will raise your performance to new levels, targeting what you need, rather than spending time reinforcing skills that you already have. It’s not always fun, but it’s the fastest way to make a big difference.  

Heather Townsend1 Comment