Rack Focus

At the beginning of each New Year, do something different than you’ve done before. This time of year is rife with possibility. Seize the moment to grow and improve.

Begin by fine-tuning your observational skills. Listen to masterful speakers—a Speaker Series, convention, or colleague you admire. Identify their unique style, tools or methodology. Try them on for size, whether it’s storytelling, a conversational delivery, or the use of drama. If it feels uncomfortable, keep going. You’re creating new neural pathways in your brain and ultimately changing behavior.

To freshen your outlook, draw from different disciplines. For example, if you favor Cabernet, switch to Pinot Noir. At first, the new wine may taste wimpy, but you are re-tuning your taste buds. (Karen MacNeil calls this frame error.) Sing favorite tunes out loud in your car. Memorize Shakespeare sonnets to embed poetic cadences into your voice and wow your friends. If you typically hike hilly terrain, switch to the beaches. Wake up earlier and journal, or do Tai Chi. Shake it up.

The more you attract new and fresh, the better you’ll feel, and ultimately sound. Stage actors in long-running shows know their most critical challenge is making the script sound spontaneous each night. Take on this challenge and have the best speaking year of your career.

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