Some people speak really well, but don’t say a lot. Maybe you’ve seen it—you watch someone speak with eloquence and elegance, but without conviction and intention. All filler; no killer. The delivery was polished, but did that communicate anything valuable?
When you communicate, communicate with intention. With your heart. When your intentions are in the right place, you can get away with a few stumbles and stammers because your audience—whether it’s an audience of 1 or 1,000—knows you’re authentic with them.
5. Communication is a skill.
Picasso produced 50,000 pieces of art before he died. Stephen King writes every single day, no matter what. Both men found out that the real secret to greatness was actually very simple: it was all about output; rinsing and repeating. That’s how they became great. That’s how they developed their skills. Effective communication works the same way: it’s a skill; it requires practice.
And no—practice won’t make perfect.
There’s no such thing as perfect. Practice makes progress.
There are tons of ways to practice your communication. You can practice in your head. You can practice in your office. You can practice with other people. For a long time, I used to practice doing motivational speeches in front of a mirror. I also used to practice on video so that I could see if I was making any stupid gestures.
Of course, you don’t need to practice your communication skills while you’re ordering your lunch at the drive-thru or anything. But you do need to practice communicating when it counts: If your wedding vows are coming up, it’s probably a good idea to practice them a few times over so you don’t embarrass yourself on one of the most important days of your life. If you’re scheduled to deliver a lecture to a large group of people, you should practice. If you want to become a better salesperson, you need to look at every lost sale as a great opportunity to hone and practice your skills.
The bottom line is this: remember Mr. Miagi’s advice: wax on, wax off. Practice your communication skills regularly.