We all know timing’s vital for our success in life. But how about the notion that timing becomes more of a science vs. an art? In Daniel H. Pink’s 2018 release: When. The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, we discover how to apply the science of timing to our business messages.
My big takeaway from this delightful book: We must better understand an audience’s response to a message and how our energy throughout the day influences that response. If doing so, we can deliver our news more strategically and more effectively, too. This two-part blog series offers a summary of Pink’s intriguing book from the viewpoint of executive communication.
Factor in your moods of each day
When analyzing positive affect, researchers find most of us feel increasingly happy throughout the morning, less happy in the afternoon, and happier again in the evening, writes Pink. Negative emotions rise in the afternoon and sink as the day closes. Insight into earnings calls reinforces this idea. Researchers find that earnings calls in the afternoon become more negative, irritable, and combative than morning calls.
And with that, we’ve already gained excellent wisdom as communicators: Most of us experience an early spike, a big drop, and a subsequent recovery in happiness throughout the day. Therefore, for optimum results, we ought to deliver our messages at a point when we (and our audience) feel at least semi-enthused vs. grumpy or flat.
Determine the highs and lows of your energy
Like CEOs, military leaders, or chancellors, we’re only human and battle our own waning energy throughout the day. To guide your daily timing, Pink offers this method:
Step One: Determine your chronotype. Pink asks us to determine whether we’re a lark, a third bird, or, an owl. You can decide which label fits you best by studying when you rise on the weekends or day off work. If you wake the same as week days, you’re a lark. If a little later, you’re a third bird. If you raise much later on rest days (90 minutes or more) you’re an owl. This link provides the test.
Step Two: Establish your task. Must you impress others in an interview? Analyze (and share results on) something pivotal? Provide insight? Determine in this step how mentally alert you must feel.
Match your appropriate energy to the task
Step Three becomes matching your energy level to the task at hand for the most effective results. The chart Pink offers looks like this:
- Larks perform analytic tasks best in the early morning; Third Birds analyze things best in the early or mid-morning while Owls do their best analytic work in the late afternoon and evening.
- Larks and Third Birds perform insight tasks best in late afternoon/early evening. Owls perform this work best in the morning.
- All three chronotypes make the best impression on others in the mornings, even Owls. So we ought to try to interview or persuade others in the morning, where able.
- Larks make better decisions in the early morning; Third Birds decide more wisely in the early to mid-morning. Owls make better decisions in the late afternoon and evening.
Part of the success of this methodology comes from shifting tasks around within your day. If you’re an owlish engineer, tackle less essential tasks in the morning and larger ones in the late afternoon and evening. If you need to host a brainstorm group, consider the late afternoon as most team members will be Third Birds, Pink notes.
Our next post covers the power (and impact) of a break, even on high level executives and judges. More blogs on executive communication live here.