Rehearse for Success
I am so excited for Andria McClellan, our guest on BrazenBFF Podcast Episode #7: Running for Office. She saw a problem in the way our city works, she decided to do something about it, AND she loves her new life as a City Council Member.
I tell myself and I tell my clients–If you want to make change in your life, learn something new, get a new job, or start a new hobby – You have to put yourself out there. Which means being uncomfortable and vulnerable and opening yourself up to criticism (both valid and, sadly, invalid). I can’t imagine a more intense venue for putting yourself out there than running for office.
As a public speaking coach, one of the things I want to do for my clients is to help them experience some of the discomfort of trying a new thing by trying that new thing in the pretend situation that we actors call rehearsal. There is a misconception that the reason actors rehearse is so that they can create perfection in their performance.
While it is true that part of rehearsal is about figuring out who is going to move where, when, and how person x will deliver line y, the true purpose of rehearsal is to create a space where it is safe for actors to experiment together. The director is there to make suggestions and provide feedback. It’s safe because everyone in the room is on the same team – so we can all try something new, be vulnerable and uncomfortable, until we get used to the new behavior. The best part is, rehearsal is mandatory.
We all would avoid rehearsal if we could – for exactly the same reasons that we all avoid putting ourselves out there (by speaking up even though we identify as introverted, trying humor in a presentation even though we don’t consider ourselves “funny”, or in my case asking people to refer clients for coaching even though I am scared to death of people more “important” than I am…).
Actors too would rather not go through the discomfort of growing, trying new behaviors, and failing. So rehearsal is mandatory. My clients, too, would rather not go through the process of getting better: Trying something new, feeling uncomfortable, failing, getting up and trying again. So they avoid rehearsal. That way they can blame bad delivery of a presentation on the fact that they did not rehearse.
A way around this avoidance behavior, which I think we can all agree is counterproductive (even though it feels so good and it’s so easy), is to hire a coach. The coach and the money spent make rehearsal mandatory. If you work with me or another coach, you will get better because you will be forced to prepare your presentation ahead of time, rehearse it ahead of time, try things out and see how they work in the safety (albeit uncomfortable safety) of the rehearsal room. Your public speaking skills WILL improve.
If now is not the right time for you to hire a coach, here are some things you can do to make SURE you rehearse for your next communication challenge (whether that’s speaking up at a meeting or presenting more confidently to large groups).
- Schedule a time NOW for a trusted friend or colleague to see you rehearse. Put it in your calendar. Reserve a room. Your deadline for being prepared is the day before.
- Mark three times for you to rehearse your talk on your own in your calendar.
- Buy yourself a gift. Give that gift to a friend to hold. You only get the gift if you actually follow through on the three rehearsals.
- Get together with colleagues and create a lunchtime communication club where everyone can try out their new stuff with a trusted group. Create parameters for feedback so everyone understands what are acceptable and unacceptable forms of feedback.
- If you are trying to solve the problem of nervousness in groups (aren’t we all), Consider the following:
- Take an improv class
- Take an acting class
- Join a toastmasters group
Both types of classes are generally offered through local theatres and/or community education programs at community colleges. Remember: If the group is yucky, leave and find another group.
Find the supportive environment that you need to rehearse effectively, and gain presentation success!
Jenifer teaches the VERY effective technique of laddering for public speaking in this video:
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