The always-extraordinary Marco Tempest from this year’s TEDx Tokyo. Watch it once and enjoy it.
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Now watch it again and pay attention to how fluidly Marco interacts with the film. Think about how much rehearsal that must have needed. Even if he’s triggering each element as a mini-animation in its own right, so he can pause between the bits and take a rest, it’s a massively demanding piece. The precision!In recent seminars and presentations about presentation, I have centred the Rehearsal discussion around what the participants at the session typically do. My key question – what, to you, constitutes rehearsal?

It is interesting to hear how much “fiddling with slides” and “tweaking language” goes on at the last minute before going live. In my opinion, neither of those things constitutes rehearsal. Look it up because what rehearsal means, how it is defined, is probably not what you are doing in advance of your speech / talk / lecture / presentation.

I watched the rehearsal film that was released after Michael Jackson’s death – This Is It. Boy, did that guy not leave things to chance! I watched the DVD again after the kids had gone to bed, just to see Jackson honing the details as the rehearsals progressed. He was talking about beats and pauses, getting a really low light that would show off his sparkly socks, how long the applause would last after one effect and the signal he would give the band so they could proceed. Every minuscule detail … And given what we later discovered about the pain he was constantly suffering and the pharmacological cocktail he was taking every day, his professionalism, his attention to those minuscule details, is all the more impressive.

Now, to be fair, you’re probably not going to earn 50 million bucks from your next presentation, no matter how many times you deliver it; so there is a cost-benefit element at play here. But how about this? I had a client who pulled us in for the latter stages of rehearsal on a good-sized tech conference a while back. He was open to trying ideas and very diligent and uninhibited in his rehearsal. When he stepped onto the podium, he lit up the building with his ideas, his energy and his confidence and the Twitter channel exploded with feedback about his talk. He knew that the conference was going to be a good opportunity for his company, but he had no idea how good. There were lots of decision-makers in the room, and a few international players and the next thing you know, he’s landing contact after contact and contract after contract.

If you’re going to speak to any audience other than your cat it’s worth giving real consideration to your words and ideas. If there’s anything at stake for your business as a result of your talk, you need to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about your audience. Do them a favour, find some humility and do some grown-up rehearsal.

By the way, here are my two seminar slides on the subject of rehearsing:

Slide 1
Slide 2