Presenting Well: The case for rehearsal

Tonight my band, No Excuses, is rehearsing for several hours before playing 2 gigs this weekend. I’m a bit nervous about the gig on Sunday, because we have only been rehearsing for Saturday’s performance. Since Sunday’s is twice as long, we’ll no doubt use about 3 hours or so to focus on Sunday’s gig before we polish up for tomorrow’s. Then I can breath better and sleep well.

If you are about to present a case to a jury, an informational topic to prospects or open an event for your community, it takes practice. This is not a mental review, reading over a script. This is an on-your-feet, outloud rehearsal, complete with movement, projection, eye contact and high energy. In front of others.

If we test our approach, we are testing out everything about the presentation. Language, flow, rhythm, clarity, delivery, pauses, pacing, articulation – for starters. Each of these areas requires feedback. Rehearsing in front of someone worthy of guiding, encouraging, redirecting and constructively critiquing is priceless.

This week’s presentation clients gained awareness on several things:

  • length of delivery – the fact that they have so much more time available to slow down their pace than they anticipated
  • need for articulation – how mumbling hugely affected their clarity and their professionalism, let alone their confidence
  • familiarity with the content – the more they rehearsed, the less they needed to stick to their notes
  • the amount of work it requires for engagement – it isn’t only based on tone but on being real, relaxing into the moment and focusing on the audience

It’s a delight to be invited into a speaker’s practice time. They rethink their language, their phrasing, their focus and show up as real people vs technical info portals. Their humility in discovering their impact – both positive and negative – is inspirational.

I recall the shows I’ve directed in theatres or other performance venues. The rehearsals were the real moments of awe. What happens when we dissect our own messages has meaning beyond expectation. We dig deeper. We laugh. We make mistakes and stop ourselves before others do. We are suddenly aware of our own power. We see possibility. We hope. And then we try it all again.

The same happens when we practice our presentational performance in our professional life. If we want to present well, I can’t imagine not wanting to rehearse.

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On August 26th, 2011, posted in: Delivery, impact, presentation, rehearsal by
One Response to Presenting Well: The case for rehearsal
  1. Such a familiar eeinrpxece, Catherine. I think playwrights who INSIST on their lines being spoken exactly as written (even if they’re Mamet or – intake of breath – Beckett) are depriving their scripts of potential growth. I don’t mean one should be cavalier with the words – of course not – but tweaks, contractions, the odd colloquialism and so on can add to an actor’s understanding and performance.So many personal anecdotes swim into my head as I write this that I think I should maybe write a blog about it myself, but as a general point, I’ve always found the rehearsal process (as writer, director and/or actor) to be the most fascinating part of the eeinrpxece. All those involved learn more about the play and one another as it grows. In a way, the actual performance before an audience is a necessary evil.

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