You may have, unbeknownst to you, done this a few times in your life already, but how do you go about actually ‘winging’ certain tasks? What situations do you have to be in to ‘wing’ them? What does ‘winging’ even mean?
To ‘wing it’ is to simply perform well at something you otherwise have little or no skill to accomplish. Some classic examples could be doing a talk on a topic you don’t really know about or playing a sport you’ve had no training at whatsoever (thank your genes).
Winging things in life has its perks, and I’ve definitely had some great experiences with it. I’ve winged so many tests at college, winged reports, winged interviews, meetings I’ve had at work, and even some tasks I’ve never done (but have heard about a few times). While I always recommend being prepared for anything, there are times when you need to wing yourself out of (or into) situations.
Winging things can only be successful if you’re confident you can get away with it. Confidence is key here. You’ll need to know how to keep eye contact, modulate your voice that’ll make you sound believable (if you’re doing a speech or something similar), use body language to exude power (link to my article), and hold yourself as someone with the authority to be doing that specific task. It will also help if you’re a wide reader.
Now, a question usually posed to me is this: Isn’t ‘winging’ lying or deceiving other people? Personally, I don’t think so. Deception is often intentional, while winging is having to improvise when you’re left with no other choice. If you’re suddenly put in a position where you’ve got zilch time to prepare, there’s no other choice than to wing it.
I remember having to wing a debate in college, about whether or not sleeping with the lights on is better than sleeping with the lights off. Our team had very little time to prepare, if at all, and in the end, after looking my classmates square in the face as I refuted the statements of the other party (we were assigned the ‘lights on’ position by the way), we won. Scientifically, sleeping with the lights off provides more benefits, but because our team spoke with such confidence, we managed to steer the audience our way.
Also, back in Oman (a country 4 hours away from Dubai where I spent three years after high school in), I had to play bowling with some friends from church. I didn’t say I had zero experience ‘cause they might not give me the time of day, but once I got into it, I started getting the hang of holding the bowling ball and ‘steering’ it where I needed it to go. After a few hours, I felt like I had been bowling all my life. No one knew I’d never bowled before too, and I got away with it. Not only did I spend such a great time with friends, but I learned how to bowl just by observing others doing it.
Another example of winging something is going to a meeting unprepared but still providing input into the conversation. Sometimes, I have no idea what we’re talking about but then I hear a word or two that gives me a hint and I go for it. It works out all the time for me. In this case, the key is being attentive to the words being exchanged. You pick up hints when you do, and using these little keywords, you try to inject related items until you understand what you’re meeting about fully. Call it luck during the first go, but if this happens often, it’s no longer just that. It’s winging it.
It takes practice to be great at this. You might feel awkward and very self-aware when you try it for the first time, but as you are pushed to keep doing it, it’ll get easier. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been winging things since my school days (which I’m sure you have done too), making me look so prepared all the time and knowledgeable about a lot of things. Believe me - I don’t know everything. Hell, I’ve winged conversations I had no knowledge about, but people still saw me as sort of an expert on it after.
When was a time you winged something? How was the experience?