“I’ve seen quite a bit of the world thanks to being invited to speak at conferences. Since some people are under the impression that serial conference speakers possess some special talents, I’d like to demystify my process by walking you through my latest talk from start to finish.”
Last week Seth Godin wrote that rehearsing is for cowards. My first thought when I saw that headline was, “Seth Godin just called me a coward!” If you’ve read my The importance of rehearsal, you know what I mean.
Like most of Godin’s writing, though, you have to take this one in the spirit in which it is written – deliberately extreme headline to catch your attention and then a very specific context in which it applies. In this case, his definition of rehearsal is very narrow and, to me, is really a definition of memorization.
At the end of the article he says that “A well-rehearsed performance will go without a hitch.” As if that is a bad thing. If you are trying to create your art live, then obviously it is bad. But not all art is created live and unfiltered, unedited.
Some art is created in post-production, when the book / album / film is edited into it’s final form.
And some art is created in pre-production, during rehearsal as things are tried and discarded, tried and changed, or new things added.
Rehearsal is simply editing in pre-production.
A couple of days ago I mentioned to some friends how I use rehearsal in my day-to-day life: Preparing for a presentation, walking through the steps of a plan, practicing a process. Especially when it is something important. (The subject came up because I am giving an important presentation to some senior folks in our organization later this week, and I had excused myself so I could rehearse.)
“Rehearse? What do you mean, rehearse?”
I learned the importance of rehearsal while in the military: Plan an operation, try it out, refine the plan. Sometimes the rehearsal can be a simple walk through of the basic steps of something. Sometimes, as is the case this week, it is a full blown dress rehearsal, maybe even with a video camera so I can be my own judge.
When I watch speakers on TED.com, or have the opportunity to hear speakers live, I always marvel at how easy they make it look. I also know that for every minute on stage they’ve probably prepared for an hour or more.
Like the old jokes goes: How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice practice practice.