The performance will only be as good as the rehearsal
By: Chris Teague

These words are probably familiar to many of us and as the conference season is well and truly upon us I thought it would be useful to remind the many leaders who will be standing in front of their teams/businesses of the fact that the performance will only be as good as the rehearsal.

We’ve all seen fantastic presenters and for each one of those we’ve probably seen dozens of others that didn’t live up to the billing. So are presenters born/naturally gifted or made?

I believe they’re made; charisma, expert status or experience is not enough. Every great presentation has been designed so and rehearsed time & time again. One of my favourite presenters is the late Steve Jobs; the former Apple CEO, his Apple Keynotes were marketing genius - many wrongly assumed this was natural ability and charisma when in fact it was intense & fastidious rehearsal long before the event itself.

In Carmine Gallo’s book ‘The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs’ he shares the fact that Steve Jobs rehearsed 1hr for every minute of content he wanted to deliver on stage; so a 30min presentation will have been rehearsed for 30hrs.

It is this rehearsal that made him appear naturally gifted, confident, and polished on stage. Many people don’t realise that it takes practice to sound conversational.

And Steve Jobs is not alone - we’re all fans of TED talks; and when Carmine Gallo did an article for Forbes he confirmed that one of the most popular TED talks of all time [22m views], Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, rehearsed 200 times before she delivered it in front of a TED audience.

Live events are undoubtedly one of the most impactful forms of mass communication therefore here are a few simple tips to ensure you or your leaders capitalise on the opportunity on stage:

Pen & Paper: write your presentation - not just the bones of the presentation or slides but everything you wish to talk about. Write it all down as if you’re sending a letter to the business.

Flow: Consider the action you wish people to take as a result of your presentation; then construct your story to help inspire people to act
Simplify: Remove any unnecessary or filler words as you read through it

Do it: Rehearse [at least 5 times] in front of colleagues, board members and anyone that will listen. The more you do this the more feedback you will get and the better the end result will be.

Be the benchmark: encourage others to follow your lead and prepare fastidiously. Arrange an offsite rehearsal session where/when everyone is expected to deliver their talk. Sessions like these have many benefits including unifying the presenters, clarifying the messages and the desired actions.

At the end of the day the old adage ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ remains true; the performance will only be as good as the rehearsal.

Reading recommendation:

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

How Steve Jobs Made Presentations Look Effortless