Did you know that 20% of all New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January? The remaining 80% die by the end of the year.
We start off with such good intentions. But very few are able to sustain those good intentions beyond a few weeks.
This year I decided to do things differently. First, I made only one resolution. It’s much easier to turn over one new leaf than a whole garden full of them.
Second I made myself accountable to someone. I decided to find an ‘enforcer’ to help me keep on track.
The idea for accountability came from my colleague Patricia Davies. We are both part of a communications panel for the International Institute of Business Analysis. Patricia is the writing expert, and I help people improve their public speaking and presentation skills.
My resolution this year is to write 30 minutes everyday. Patricia has agreed to be my enforcer. And she came up with these suggestions to help me stay the course:
- write only 6 days a week and give myself one day off.
- write at the same time everyday, but have an alternate time just in case.
- write only for 25 minutes each day. Spend the last 5 minutes organizing what I will write the next day.
Patricia also made a New Year’s resolution – and has enlisted me as her enforcer. She has pledged to get rid of the ‘uhms, ahs and You knows’ from her speeches and presentations.
My suggestion to make that a little easier is to pause each time she finishes a phrase or sentence. Sometimes we as speakers get intimidated by silence – and rush to fill it. We forget that our audiences love pauses – because the pauses give them a chance to understand and consider our words.
As British voice coach, theatre director and author Patsy Rodenburg said, ‘pauses and silences give words the room they need to reverberate. And in that reverberation, meaning resides’.
So, if you are a speaker or presenter, embrace silence. It helps your audience. And it helps you gather your thoughts without recourse to the ums and ers and other vocal tics we use to buy ourselves time for thought.
If you are serious about your New Year resolutions, I recommend you find a buddy who can hold you accountable.
Got to go now. It’s time to write.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.