Secret #6 – Rehearsal Required

Ever wish you had a time machine that could take you back to the moment you completely botched something for a do-over? You know that gnawing sensation caused by regret over a lost or blown opportunity. You can’t stop replaying what happened, and worse, how it should have gone. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable but those that are avoidable are particularly nagging.

Here is where rehearsal can save us—it’s an opportunity to try things out beforehand and recognize the potential quagmires before we step into them. When we rehearse, we find out just where the problems occur and we can account for them.

A great performance is one in which the work is already done. Who wants to watch actors grappling with the script after the curtain goes up? Likewise, it’s a huge mistake to work out your speech while you’re giving it. Rehearsal is the time to work it out.

Make the most of rehearsal. If you’re going to be standing, stand while you rehearse. If you’ll have a microphone, hold something similar and keep it a consistent distance from your mouth. Visual aids? Rehearse with them. Practice your speech well during rehearsal and it will feel more natural and familiar in the presentation. Enlist the help of people you trust (and/or a video camera). Their feedback can be very useful and their presence will more authentically mimic the real thing. Don’t get frustrated if things aren’t working! This is precisely when you want to know what doesn’t work because you can fix it.

If you get a basket you’ll win three free throws, a box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits and a biscuit mixer. Fix the biscuits—I’ll make a proper cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot. (I wrote this, but Ed edited it.)

Take a look at the paragraph above. Look it over twice. I’ll wait. Now, read it again—out loud.
You would never know how tricky that paragraph is to say by reading it silently. Rehearse out loud. If you come upon words that trip you up, change them. You are the God of your presentation—if it doesn’t work for you, it has to go. If you cannot change it (a direct quote, someone’s name), go over that section repeatedly, slowly, until you have a better command of it.

While rehearsing aloud, you may find a need for a transitional thought to help the flow, or come across redundancies to cut. Not enough breath? Shorten the sentences. Mark where you need to breathe. There is no limit to what you might find in the course of rehearsal that, in improving, will make your efforts more successful.

Rehearsing out loud is no guarantee that nothing at all will go wrong, but if something does, you will be better prepared to deal with it. What comes from a productive rehearsal process is not only a better product, but in making improvements, we feel better about it, and that increases our confidence. I’d call that a win-win-win.

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