Tips & Tricks

How To 'Wing' Any Task, Every Single Time

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). 

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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

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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.

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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?

3 Ways to Make Designer/Client Relationships Work

So you’ve got a client, and you’re very excited to get started on your project. The first few stages roll out fine, but you notice your relationship becoming quite strained. You find yourself wanting to speak with your client less and less, and you just want the project to be done with. You may have finished the job, but how did your relationship with your client fare?

This dynamic could be very powerful if handled correctly, and it doesn’t require a magician to keep things running smoothly between designers and clients. What does it take to make this relationship (or any other relationship, in fact) work at top condition?

 

1. Communicate continuously.

As a Designer, when you’ve got the green light to start working, that doesn’t mean you speed up so fast there’s no time for pit stops. I get it - you’re a free spirit whose creativity shouldn’t be confined to a box, but you’re 50% responsible for delivering the project as best you can. You’re part of a team of yourself and your client. Be open to your client and make sure you’re both on the same page. Keep each other in the loop of whatever developments happen. That doesn’t mean staying connected 24/7 of course, but major movements need to be reported.

As a Client, giving the designer a green light doesn’t mean you can just sit back and give the whole task solely in the hands of your employed worker. Yes, while the whole point of you getting someone to work on it was for you to be able to relax and be worry-free, you handle 50% of the success of the relationship too! Staying in the loop allows you to work on developing the project together, making necessary adjustments that will benefit both you and the designer. 

Lack of communication often leads to misunderstandings, causing “I told you so’s” and generally a sour relationship between both parties. Instead of having an awesome project which you both can be proud of, either one or both of you may feel cheated or feel they’ve wasted time on it. Most problems come from the fact that there was no communication in the duration of the project, and the expectation that the ‘designer should know what to do’ or the lament that ‘the client wasn’t very clear about what the next developments will be’, could’ve been avoided altogether.

 

2. Set expectations.

While we’re on the subject of expectations, I’d like to say that it’s better to set these before the project even begins, and the more detailed, the better. I’m sure you already know this, but setting expectations help put milestones on the map, and both parties are then able to see the roadmap more clearly. Expectations help make the blueprint of the whole engagement - you know what’s expected of you as a designer, you are clear on what you need from the designer as a client, and anyone can look back on that list further down the timeline and not get lost in terms of what they need to deliver. 

As someone who’s been doing professional freelance design work for 4-5 years now, I’ve experienced clients who have no idea what they should expect, and in this case, it’s our role as designers to educate them. This will make things easier for us ‘free-spirited’ people, because once we’re clear on each others’ expectations, only then can we actually use our creativity to execute it as we see fit. 

When we do video or voice calls over Skype (most clients are foreign employers) and they finish giving a very vague brief of what they want done, I go over what they’ve mentioned. An example would be if someone wanted an animated video done, ‘with pictures and a character in it’, I go back and ask what they mean. Is it a video that’s 2D, or 3D? What’s their general idea of “pictures with a character”, and so on. More often, all they want is an infographic with “moving pictures”, and not a fully animated character. Again, we go back to item number one - communicate

 

3. Understand where both parties are coming from.

We tend to get impatient with others who don’t understand what we’re saying, and that happens even in normal conversations, right? More so in this dynamic. Often, clients who want some design work done have no idea how to call something so trivial to us, and we involuntarily widen the gap between us and the client by perceiving them as idiots. We’ve got to understand that they didn’t study Fine Arts or get a degree in Design to learn the jargon. They wouldn’t know the difference between “raster” and “vector” images even if they went to the best University in the country. It’s not their chosen discipline. 

This is the same for us designers. If we’re employed by a businessman, we also wouldn’t know jargon related to their field. If they looked like idiots to us for not knowing Color Theory, we’ll look like idiots to them for not knowing simple business terminology. We’ve all got our strengths, and the reason why they come to us for design help is because they know we know what we’re doing. We also go to other professions for help in their related areas, like a doctor or a veterinarian for example. 

Patience goes a long way in making relationships work, and that applies to the work dynamic too. Don’t get tired of interacting with your client or your designer. The more you start getting fed up by the other, that emotion will rub off on them. It’s a cycle, really. Be more understanding of each other’s short comings. Give it time, as long as that time doesn’t hurt the deadline. 

 

Have you ever experienced anything like this in your career? How did it go? How did you make your relationship work?

Body Language: Exuding Confidence

In a room full of people, it's always beneficial to have the upper-hand. You get to control your response and other people's response to you, charm them and make you believe whatever you say, and practically trust you with their lives.

Some use this to take advantage of people in a negative context, but today, I want to show you how you can use these tips positively, whether during a deal meet, a lunch date, or at an office setup.

 

What are Non-Verbals?

Non-verbal communication includes pitch, speed, tone and volume of voice, gestures and facial expressions, body posture, stance, and proximity to the listener, eye movements and contact, and dress and appearance.

In simple terms, it's how you present yourself to other people without having to say anything. It's the art of showing power/authority or intent to others using your physical features.

Here are some non-verbals which may be useful to you (if done right):

 

Be aware of your hands.

What you do with your hands during a situation says a lot about your confidence. An example would be keeping your palms facing down from behind a desk, which shows a high level of personal confidence. To not look too overbearing, show your palms once in a while.

Psychology tells us that exposing the palms speak of a character that is quite subordinate or lacking authority compared to someone who keeps their palms downwards. This is said to signal confidence and certainty in one's self.

 

Get in their 'space'.

It's not about making the other person feel uncomfortable - rather, it's making them feel you're approachable and willing to step forward. By meeting others in their space, you're telling them, "I'm present, I'm currently acting in-the-moment". Shake their hand and step forward. Don't wait for it to happen the other way around. Doing this will show your control of the situation.

 

Stay still, physically.

If you want to exude confidence, stand your ground and keep still. Obviously, people who are frantic or nervous can be hyperactive or fidgety. Nothing shows courage and assurance by being physically calm.

A lot of us move our heads around when we speak, but if the head is still or moved slowly, that person speaking exudes an air of authority, seriousness, and confidence. If one constantly looks around with a darting eye or have quick head movements, it indicates that one is under threat or is of a lesser status or rank.

 

Have good body posture.

Sometimes, being the most powerful person in the room requires more than looking good in a suit or dress. Often, it's about how you hold yourself - quite literally. To be confident, stand stall and don't slouch, look at the people you're speaking to in the eye, and keep your hands relaxed. Fidgeting with you hair or your clothes can make you look bored or insecure, which we don't want.

 

There are heaps more non-verbals you can look into, but the ones I mentioned will help you get started. I do seminars/workshops on Body Language, so if you're interested in scheduling a session with me for you or for your team, shoot me an email at contact@theindymiss.com :)

Let me know if you need more series like this on self-improvement, and what topics you'd like me to cover. I'd be more than happy to oblige.