Practice makes perfect. It sounds good in theory, but the business world moves quickly, and who really has time for practice when you’re just trying to get to the bottom of your list for the day?
But deep down, you know that you could be smarter, better, faster.
It’s still a little sore to mention his name after Super Bowl LI, but apparently, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady practices 16 hours a day leading up to a big game. That’s two-thirds of his day, leaving only eight hours for wonderful things like sleeping and eating.
This guy led his team to win five Super Bowl Championships. Seriously, at this point, does he really need the extra practice? (I would have loved for him to sleep in a bit prior to the big game against the Atlanta Falcons.)
We hit the field, the courts and the pavement to prep for our next big athletic challenge, but how do we – as marketers, advertisers, PR pros and brand experts – practice our skills on a daily basis so we can bring our A-game under the most intense situations?
These are my simple ways to be stronger and more successful when the game is on the line:
- Anticipate tough questions you might receive. The feeling when your blood runs cold because you don’t know how to answer is terrible. Think about the toughest critic you know in life, and think about what holes they would poke in your talking points. If you asked around, I would bet your colleagues only do this when it’s a monumental meeting. Almost no one does this for weekly status report meetings. It will boost your confidence if nothing else.
- Rehearse presentations in front of colleagues and get them to ask you those tough questions. At Jackson Spalding, we call them DAGers (short for Devil’s Advocate Group). Give them license to poke holes in things (get it, “daggers…?”). If you don’t have an audience handy, record yourself so you can identify what needs to be adjusted. If you want more advanced and focused feedback and coaching, give our coaching team a shout.
- Pay attention to the problems other companies are facing and challenge yourself to solve these issues if you were their shoes. Empathy and visioning are skills you can hone, too.
- Recap key learnings after big projects with colleagues or a mentor. Don’t forget to focus on what went well, too. We are our own worst critics and only focus on the bad stuff way too often. I try recording or journaling a lesson learned daily.
- Analyze the audiences. For every new project – big or small – write down each audience involved and what motivates them. It’s all about who you want to reach and what will make them pay attention to you in a constant onslaught of noise.
- Read newspapers, blogs, magazines, industry pubs, Instagram feeds, the classics, beach books… There’s no better way to learn how to write – and how not to write – than by example.
In sports, glory doesn’t come without hard work. The same goes for marketing. There’s power in practice, so get out there and put in some laps. The team is counting on you.