Imagine how good you could become as an interpreter or events professional if you dedicated time to developing your craft, even when you aren’t working. Could just a little time each week lead to dramatic improvements?
If that interests you, keep reading.
This week, I had a very special project. It was as high-level as you can get and my entire shift was my work webcast live. No room for mistakes. No do overs. To add to the pressure, another booth of interpreters was taking relay from me too!
In preparation, I had spent some quality time listening to the speaker and practising interpreting. I had found that, because of his comparatively slow speed and detailed thinking, my output was a little choppy for my taste. So, following the thinking of the great Elisabet Tiselius and her ideas on deliberate practice, I decided to target improvement on just the delivery aspect of my interpreting. Specifically, I wanted to sound smoother and pause less.
After just one targeted session, I noticed a marked improvement, which lasted right through the job itself. Just one quick session with a known target improvement my performance markedly.
Now, having seen the results for myself, I am completely committed to deliberate practice. But what does that mean anyway?
Deliberate practice happens when you practise a skill outside of work, with a specific target or area that you want to improve, preferably with a coach or mentor. For me this week, my target was to improve the smoothness of my output when dealing with slow speakers and I recorded myself to check my progress.
For an events professional it might be people management or improving the clarity of your emails. For an interpreter, it might be your consecutive note taking or your summarising skills or your intonation.
The trick is to have a target and to hold yourself accountable. It’s even better when you work with someone else who can monitor you. But for now, I want to set the bar deliberately low, just to get us started.
Here is where your part comes in. I would like to challenge all interpreters and events professionals to join me in the 30/3 challenge – for a minimum of 3 days per week do a minimum of 30 minutes deliberate practice on a skill that is core to your job. So, no working on marketing or networking or the skills that get you clients. Concentrate on the skills that you are paid to deliver.
Focus on just one area of one skill at a time. So, don’t just say “I will work on my delivery skills” say “I want to have a smoother output with more natural intonation.” Don’t just say, “I want to manage people better”, say “I want to manage a project with volunteers to improve my motivation skills.”
To add that all-important accountability, I want you to drop a comment to say that you are in. If you are an interpreter and you are on Facebook, join the Community of Practice group and add your current target to the thread.
Together, we can all improve our performance. Who’s with me?