What do you want to improve? Your presentations? Your powers of persuasion? How you run a meeting? Your joke telling? Your ability to answer questions?
Whatever it is, to improve it, you need to review it. You may be thinking that means to record your performance, then go back and watch the video or listen to the audio. That is a very powerful way to improve. I used to go through every all-day workshop I gave, analyzing every minute. But that takes a lot of time. That’s why we rarely do it.
So, I recommend you do a shorter review, more often, by following the 24-hour rule. Within 24 hours of any performance, sit down in a quiet place with pen and paper and ask yourself the following questions:
- What went well? What do I think contributed to that?
- What didn’t go well? What do I think contributed to that?
- What would I do differently next time?
These are not particularly hard questions if you ask them within 24 hours. That’s when your recollection is still fresh. You can answer them in about 5 minutes. This is what I try to do for every performance. I reserve an in-depth analysis for a special case.
I recommend you “think on paper” to answer the questions. That gives extra objectivity through seeing the pluses and minuses in black and white. Sometimes the minuses are a little upsetting, but writing them down always helps you to figure out how to improve. Moreover, if you do the work in a thinking notebook, you can find your notes later when you need them. You can easily refresh your recollection before similar performance.
But follow the 24-hour rule: Do the review within 24 hours of the performance.
This is an example of a technique that gives you significant value at a very low cost. The most important areas of improvement will be obvious to you, in retrospect, just after your performance. You can harvest those observations if you’re fast. But if you don’t get around to it, they will fade away.
Improvement is a lifelong undertaking. Finding simple ways to make reflection for improvement a regular, easy process helps you become the best you can be.