Article originally appeared as How to rehearse the team pitch at Philippa’s site Speaking well in Public
You’ve attended the meetings, created the PowerPoint, written your part and said it to yourself in the shower… but sooner or later you’re going to have to get up and rehearse it with the team. And standing up and talking it through, no matter how small the audience at the rehearsal, is a very different matter.
It can help to think of this vital rehearsal phase as a series of steps up to the level you want.
Stage 1 – One thing you can quite confidently expect… the first go through is usually dire. All that private, internal and computer prep will go out the window with that first attempt at a team performance, as the reality of ‘faces looking at me, I’ve dropped the booklets and do I really sound like this?’ hits home. Handovers will be wobbly, the PowerPoint will play up and you will all lose track of what you’re saying as nerves kick in. It always happens… so just expect it, and treat it as Step 1.
Now comes the brave part – how did you all do? Here you need to reflect on what went well and where you need to improve. Some of it you’ll know, and some should come from the feedback-sharing immediately afterwards, including comments from your team mates and any observers.
Stage 2 – While you’re still in the zone, do another complete run-through. Now you’re also trying to take all that feedback on board as well as deliver, so don’t worry if this one’s even worse! And again, share that feedback ready for the next go.
Stage 3 – Do your third run-through at once. This should be more like it – you’re all relaxed and warmed up, you’re getting to know each other if you didn’t before, the nerves are starting to fade as you get used to the material and can think more about your performance. It’s all becoming more familiar ground. Another shot of feedback – and you can take a break.
You’re at a higher level, now. You can see the shape, scope and landscape of the presentation more clearly now, and confidence is taking over from nerves.
Likely questions are starting to pop up, including the ones you hope they won’t ask. They’re the ones you should prepare to answer with the most care.
The next go-through will highlight any major additions or changes you need to make to the presentation, people and performance in order to get the message across. Tweak and change as necessary, rehearsing and exchanging feedback until it feels right.
Finally – a dress rehearsal is a great idea, if possible with all the people, in the right place, with all props and presentations ready to go.
Don’t worry if it’s not perfect – any actor knows that a perfect dress rehearsal can make you complacent, while knowing you can always get better will keep you on your toes.
And get an early night – feeling and looking rested and fresh will give a great impression of you, your team and your organisation.
Good luck! PH