There is always a huge temptation to skip the rehearsal of your speech and decide to “Wing it.” I’ve fallen into that trap many times. It’s so easy because you look at the time that you have to practice and it seems easier just to write a few bullet notes and hope for the best. The temptation is even greater if you are pretty good at winging speeches. Not only do you not have time, but you know that you can get by, but there is where the problem lies.
I’m OK at winging it. I would never call myself a great extemporaneous speaker. I would never even call myself a good one. During Table Topics and speech evaluations, I get the job done and that’s about it, so I have a pretty good reason for rehearsing my speeches beforehand. What about those who are good at winging it. How much incentive is there for them to rehearse. On the surface, it may seem like there isn’t any. However, Michael Port briefly took up this subject on episode 82 of his podcast, “Steal the Show.” On that show, he pointed out that some people rely on winging it almost every time, but he also pointed out that even for these people, practice and rehearsal is the difference between a good presentation and a great one. As John Molidor, President of the National Speakers Association said in a recent interview, “If you have expertise and no eloquence, you’re probably a college professor.”
Another great incentive for those great at winging it is all about delivery. For me, my performance in a speech is directly tied to how much I rehearse. Like Michael Port pointed out, I can take an OK performance, add two weeks of rehearsal time and turn in a great performance. Also, rehearsal shows respect for your audience. If you go up and just simply try to transfer information, the audience quickly becomes bored and turns you off. However, with rehearsal, you are able to put a lot of thought into your delivery which the audience appreciates. Somewhere on a subconscious level, I believe the audience appreciates the amount of thought you invested into them.
I spoke to a blessed speaker who was able to wing all of his speeches. He told me that all he does is write out a few bullet notes on what he wants to say and then goes up on stage and deliver his speech. I had heard him speak before and he is very good. I asked him if he would consider rehearsing, and he didn’t like the idea of rehearsal, because he felt that it would make his speeches sound … well, rehearsed. That is a real concern, but I wanted to point out that he may sound rehearsed if he memorized the speech word for word, but if he followed the advice of some of the great speaking coaches I mentioned in my last post, he wouldn’t sound rehearsed at all. In fact if this exciting dynamic speaker took the time to rehearse his delivery and think deeply about what he was saying, he would wind up turning in performances that would be out of this world.