One can rehearse too much and when you do you end up with at least two results:
- You focus on the performance and not the content.
- You lose authenticity and passion.
On a practical level, very few of us are trained performers but in most cases, we know the subject matter we are talking about or else why on earth are we presenting it!
A champion tennis player or cricketer may spend many, many hours practising their skills, learning how to deal with every ball and adjust to its speed and bounce until they are able to nail that killer forehand or launch the loose ball out of the ground for six runs.
But they are not rehearsing. They are practising and there is a difference.
Practice makes skill second nature, you no longer have to think of what you are doing – things come naturally.
Rehearsal focuses on the performance of every pause and every word until you can deliver that performance over and over again, exactly the same.
But when you focus on the performance you often lose sight of the content and it becomes less important; you worry about small things like missing a breath when you should rather be concerned about whether the audience gets what you are saying or not.
Often the focus on the performance means you start missing the audience cues and start sounding wooden, and by doing so you start sounding like a poor actor rather than a subject matter expert. It’s far more important that you connect with your audience.
The trick is to break your talk into a number of chunks so that you know the direction you want to take. You prepare the facts and the stories that you want to tell in that section. If you lose your way you will then easily be able to get yourself back on track – because even if you forget what you had planned saying knowing your subject will ensure that you are able to find your way again.
I know a speaker who prepares his slides meticulously, and considers his opening remarks very carefully but wings it from there. He can do this as he knows what he is talking about.
His talk has structure created from the slides.
His passion and understanding come out because he knows what he is talking about and is always fresh because he is able to draw from his understanding and experience and is engaging because the audience understands that he knows what he is talking about.
Your audience will easily pick it up if your knowledge and understanding is superficial, but will be captivated if they believe that you know what you are speaking about.
So, separate those two thoughts, practise your skills of speaking in public, plan your talk and make sure that you know the structure of your argument, but don’t over-rehearse. Keep the edge on your talk.
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