Great post by TJ Walker over the weekend, with his response to the oh-so typical protest about the concept of rehearsals:
“I don’t want to rehearse because I don’t want to seem canned. I want to seem spontaneous and fresh so I’ll be better winging it.”

May I just echo TJ’s excellent response by saying, “Gaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” My slightly longer response to clients goes like this …

There is a one-word difference between someone who likes to wing it and who trots out the “I get stale if I over-rehearse” line and someone who is willing to put in the time to ensure that their presentation or speech is top-notch and that word is PROFESSIONALISM.

Try using that ’stale’ line with a stage actor who endures weeks and weeks of rehearsal and then months or even years of 8-shows-a-week performances. Stale? In front of a full house who have paid 70-100 bucks a seat? I don’t think so! The enormous effort put in at rehearsal and the ongoing cycle of refresher rehearsals keeps the show alive and invigorated and fresh – not stale. What these performers display at every show, at every cast meeting and at every refresher is called professional pride and I sincerely wish that more presenters displayed it too.

Here’s the nub – the person who feels over-rehearsed or is afraid that they are going to deliver as though there were a clockwork key turning in their back is forgetting who this process is all about. Your audience doesn’t know, realise or care that you have put 40 hours of rehearsal into your one-hour talk. They don’t know, realise or care that you are gritting your teeth with frustration and boredom when you deliver your seemingly off-the-cuff humorous asides. But believe me they will very quickly realise if your delivery falls short of the mark; they will immediately know if you keep turning your back on them to read from the screen; and boy will they care if they get any sense at all that you are underprepared.

Laurence Olivier conducted eight weeks of rehearsals for his last performance of King Lear – a role he had been playing all of his adult life. Do you imagine he put in that level of effort because he had forgotten his lines? Olivier’s great quote about performing in front of a live audience was –

“You must lead the audience by the nose to the thought”

– but hey, what did he know? I’m sure you’ll be just fine winging it …

You can find TJ’s excellent post here.