They believe rehearsing robs them of their spontaneity and that their instincts will guide them once they get in front of an audience.
That’s almost always a mistake. Practice sessions inevitably reveal soft spots—listless anecdotes, awkward transitions, distracting visuals and myriad other problems. Without practice, those trouble spots often can’t be spotted in advance, and the off-the-cuff speaker ends up committing avoidable errors.
Still, off-the-cuff presenters have a point about striking a balance between practice—which helps them get comfortable and work out any kinks in the presentation—and over-practice, which can make them come across as stilted.
Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma once offered a simple formula for finding a middle ground: “Practicing is about quality, not quantity.”
These tips will help you optimize your rehearsal process:
1. Start with chunks, not full run-throughs.
Beginning with a full run-through makes it challenging to focus on any single section. It can, after a few takes, make your practice feel redundant and unnecessarily long.
Instead, divide your presentation into chunks, or sections, as in the following example: