Would you pay $200 for a ticket to see a Broadway show if you knew that the actors never once rehearsed their lines? Of course you wouldn’t. And yet, most presenters stand and deliver without ever practicing their remarks out loud.
The other day I was walking past a couple of guys having lunch and I heard one of them say, “My big presentation is tomorrow and I’ve had no time to practice.” At this I slowed my pace so I could officially eavesdrop. He continued, “Well, that’s not exactly true – I’ve rehearsed it in my head.” To which the other guy said, “Then you’ll be fine.” Now picture me forcing one foot in front of the other so I wouldn’t lean in and yell “Are you crazy?! Think about your audience and their expectations. Get back to the office and practice out loud!”
No, he will not be fine. That presentation will be filled with ums, and ahs, and will meander here and there, all to the beat of the tentative drum in his head. If he’s lucky, his PowerPoint slides will save him from a brain freeze, but odds are he’ll use them as a crutch.
Rehearsing “in your head” is not a rehearsal. Unless you actually hear your voice saying the words you wrote down on your storyboard out loud (at a volume of 7 out of 10), you are not rehearsing.
I give myself this finger wag all the time. For example, I worked all weekend on an upcoming presentation and I have yet to say any of the words out loud. My handout looks great. My slides are ready for their close-up (even spell-checked and proofread!), but in this particular case, that is insufficient preparation. There are two big reasons why I need to find time to rehearse. First, I just found out that eight people are attending the talk from my client’s office to “learn and observe.” No pressure there. Second, I want repeat business from this client, so being on top of my game is essential.
Factor in the time to speak out loud to yourself, your pet, or your significant other – it doesn’t matter who – and you stand a better chance of achieving your goal. And as an added bonus, you will likely lessen the chances of getting asked a curveball question because you have honed your content to its essential messages.
Next up: Extemporaneous speaking – how to sound prepared and intelligent without the chance to rehearse.
p.s. If you like what you read in our blog, why not work with us in person at our upcoming SpeakWell Bootcamp on July 28th in Boston. For more details visit our website: www.speakwellpartners.com