How habits get made

Have you ever wondered how you got yourself into a situation?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, and certainly not a lot of reality TV, but I often pick up on shows my wife watches. I just saw one called “World’s Worst Tenants.” This particular episode involved a woman who brought what she thought was a miniature horse into a room in the house she rented to take care of it.

Over time, as it turns out, it became obvious it wasn’t a miniature.

By the time the shows heroes showed up to evict her, the horse had grown too big to get it out through a door, and a wall of the house had to be removed to get the horse out.

My wife said, “It didn’t get that way overnight!” And she’s right. But this woman found herself with a big problem because there wasn’t any one particular day that she clearly had to make a change. By the time she realized the problem, it was too late.

We could apply this to lots of human development issues, but what comes to mind in particular is the way speakers get themselves in trouble with rehearsal.

It’s not a surprise that you speak more effectively when you rehearse, despite those who have convinced themselves they do better when they don’t rehearse. And yet, like most speakers, you probably do not rehearse enough. You don’t consciously decide to blow it off–there’s no particular day the horse gets too big–but suddenly you find it’s meeting day, you didn’t notice how quickly it was coming up, and you’re not going to do as good a job as you could.

Here’s the deal. Take the horse out now. Work on the speech. Rehearse. It doesn’t have to be a big problem, unless you wait for the wall to have to come down.

Image credit: Flickr user George E. Norkus under Creative Commons license.

Share this, please!
Share

Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.