I was following a series of links and I stumbled up reading an article from the Harvard Business Review that I remember getting a lot of press last fall. The author suggests 10,000 hours of practice is required to become excellent at a given skill. Here’s an interesting paragraph…

[Here is the full article]

“Like everyone who studies performance, I’m indebted to the extraordinary Anders Ericsson, arguably the world’s leading researcher into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work — something he calls deliberate practice.” Numerous researchers now agree that 10,000 hours of such practice is the minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain.”

I got to thinking about speaking/preaching/teaching (whatever you want to call it) and the desire of many youth workers who want to be better and more effective at this skill. 10,000 hours…minimum! Really? If this is true, it would take the average youth worker 200 years to achieve expert status. (I did the math assuming that the average youth worker speaks for 1 hour a week–two 30 minute teaching opportunities per week, with 2 weeks a year off).

If this 10,000 hour “rule” is true, it’s no wonder so many youth workers feel inadequate about their communication skills—we are. Speaking alone, we won’t get to 10,000 hours of practice. So, in addition to actual speaking practice, there must be other factors that will benefit a communicator:

>Direct feedback via a mentor
>Personal evaluation & reflection post-teaching opportunity (either audio/video)
>Study & observation of other communicators
>Reading communication theory/studies/research

I’m not sure how to quantify these other factors into actual hours toward the 10,000 hours, but practice alone (for 10,000 hours) seems totally unrealistic. If that’s really what it takes to be a great communicator, that’s a depressing thought.

I’d love your input on all or one of these questions:
1. What do you think about the 10,000 hour theory?
2. What are you doing to become a more effective communicator?
3. Do you regularly partake in any of the 4 other factors that I mentioned above?
4. What would help you become a more effective communicator?