Monday, March 01, 2010

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse ...

There is a legendary tale that the great Jackie Gleason never liked rehearsing. He would show up just before going live on air for The Honeymooners, and when he didn’t know a line, he could simply ad lib – even after a few cocktails! Well, if it’s true, he was truly gifted and well beyond the definition of genius.

I, for one, am a big believer in rehearsing for everything and being meticulously well prepared. Especially so when pitching for new business. Those who have worked with me know I’m a stickler for rehearsal and I build in loads of practise time before a pitch. The week an employee remarked, “Oh, Julie, I don’t need rehearsal. I’ll just wing it” was the week her short career at MAVERICK ended.

Rehearsals are key to nailing down any presentation and mastering the flow. This becomes even more important when more than two people are presenting. Content may be king, but the ace in hole is all in the delivery. Knowing the content on your slides is one thing, but it’s critical to rehearse all aspects of the pitch.

Here are some key areas where you will find a rehearsal will greatly improve your live pitch and odds at winning the biz:

-- Practice your introductions, because it’s amazing how many people say the wrong things about themselves in front of a client or discuss non-relevant experience
-- Rehearse transitions between presenters
-- Practice answering anticipated questions
-- Go over finer details like budgets and timelines
-- Pepper presentations with client examples and analogies, and practise those examples aloud and at what point you will use them
-- Rehearse jokes ... yup, nothing is ad libbed in a presentation
-- Run through videos at least 10 times before a pitch, and if there is narrative around them practice that, too
-- Do at least one full dry run of a presentation in front of other employees to get timing and rhythm down;
-- Practice standing, sitting and walk-ins
-- If you are presenting in the client’s boardroom, get the dimensions beforehand so you know exactly where to position yourselves
-- Finally, rehearse the close and how you are going to ask for the business!

6 comments:

Parker said...

I could have used this advice about 12 hours ago, Julie.

尾牙大餐 said...
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Martin Waxman said...

This is great advice, Julie. A pitch is really like the opening night of a show and all performers know they can't put on a good show unrehearsed.

Corina - ALS Ontario said...
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Corina - PR Student said...

This is really great advice Julie. I'm currently a member of Toastmasters and one of the things they stress is practice, practice, practice.

Ron Weinberger said...

I couldn’t agree with you more Julie!

I’d like to add two additional suggestions:

Video tape your rehearsals and review them to ensure a high level of enthusiasm, confidence, eye contact, tone of voice and facial expression.

Also, when you walk into a presentation keep in mind no one in the room is going to be more excited about your product or service than you are. Your job is to ensure that when you leave, you’ve brought everyone else up to your high level. Remember... enthusiasm, belief and confidence are contagious!