Don't rehearse! It will make you look awkward on stage
I hear them often, these myths regarding presentation rehearsals. They are being said as truths unchallenged. Even when they hold as much logic as when my grandmother told me not to play with candles because it would make me pee in bed.
I want to dive into a few of the strongest myths in an effort to bury them. Perhaps you recognize one - or more?
“If I do too many dry-runs I will appear stiff and overly rehearsed”
I imagine it must derive from a misunderstanding that rehearsing means remembering each and every word of your script. However, most of the people I meet as a presentation coach don’t do scripts and even if they did, rehearsing would be the best way preventing them from appearing stiff when they act it out.
Imagine if an actor refused to rehearse and claimed a fear of becoming too stiff and overly rehearsed on stage.
I believe that only by knowing your content by heart can it come out naturally and engaging. By 'knowing' I don't mean each word of a script, but to know your key messages and why they are important to the audience.
“I know very well how to present thank you, no need for me to rehearse.” This phrase is a classic excuse to get out of the rehearsing room. People at high level positions are often trained well and have presented in front of audiences for years. But just imagine a football team in front of an important match saying: “Rehearsing? No way! We know how to play football.”
The thing is, an audience don’t want the same old record being played again. They expect you to be engaging. They expect it to be worth the time to listen. Some presenters are naturals of course, but if the world’s best presenters all rehearse, some even frantically into every little detail like Steve Jobs, do you still believe you don’t need to?
“I have to get my slides right before I can concentrate on what to say”
The amount of times I have struggled to get a team away from their slides and into rehearsing are numerous. If we have put aside a day to rehearse for a presentation, two third of the time is often spend on tweaking slides. Most of the times they haven't even considered how to speak to their slides yet. Great slides can help you highlight key messages; but they will not overshadow a bad performance.
Rehearsing your materials is a key element of rehearsing for your presentation. I have seen many people who seem disconnected to their slides which makes the slides become more of a distraction to the audience.
Think about what to say before you create your materials. Then consider how to visualize it through the questions I have noted in a previous post. Rehearse and get feedback on words, performance and materials before you finalize it.
So don't believe in these myths. What might just happen to you if you make a habbit of rehearsing is that you will improve your presentation skills, feel more confident on stage and increase the impact on your audience.