Preparing Your Mind for Stage Mastery
Rehearse Everywhere, All the
In late 2009, I gave a ten-minute
presentation, about presentation skills, to a networking
group. Afterwards, someone asked me how much time one
should use to prepare for a presentation. My answer was
simply that there’s no set amount of time someone needs
to prepare. Presenters need to prepare until they’re as
ready as they can possibly be. Essentially, no amount of
preparation is too much.
Later, I calculated how much time
I spent preparing for that ten-minute presentation, and
the answer was almost fifty hours! That doesn’t mean I
sat at my computer preparing slides, researching
material, and working on the presentation for fifty
hours. Preparation includes rehearsal as well, and not
all rehearsal happens on a stage.
To be ready for that ten-minute
presentation, I prepared the information, created the
slides, gathered my evidence, and then rehearsed. I
practiced how I was going to open and how I was going to
close the presentation, out loud and in my head. I
worked out the questions I’d ask the audience, and even
to whom I would ask some of them. I visualized the
entire ten-minute presentation in my mind over and over
again. I rehearsed it in my mind while I was in the car
or in the shower, and even while doing house work.
Whenever I could afford the mental time to do so, I
rehearsed the talk.
I approach every talk I give the
same way. I run it through my mind thousands of times. I
stand in front of the mirror and run through sections of
my talks. I set up a video camera and record myself
rehearsing the talk in my basement, and then I review
those videos. I try out my talks on my wife, and then I
get her feedback.
Now, here’s an important point.
You’re not rehearsing in order to memorize the talk word
for word. You’re rehearsing so you can deliver key
phrases the way you want them to sound. You’re
rehearsing so you can remember the order of your points
and familiarize yourself with your material so well that
you won’t have to rely on notes.
So, what’s the lesson? When you
have a talk to give, rehearse it all the time,
everywhere you can, in your mind and out loud. Rehearse
it until you know your material so well you could talk
about it in your sleep.