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Lesson 10 from: Become an Engaging Presenter

Andrew Whelan

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Lesson Info

10. Rehearsal

Next Lesson: Execute & Engage

Lesson Info


Well, how do you rehearse? Most people open up their computer, read their deck, and they just go through and make sure they memorize all the information. Memorization is fine. If you know your entire presentation, it's amazing. I don't have a photographic memory, but I'm pretty good based on repetition. So, I move things. And I also know, in the beginning of rehearsal, I'm gonna test thing with real people, so things are gonna shift. I knew this. I tested this a few times with live audiences before I came here. And a couple things I tried literally fell flat. And I asked the audience afterwards, and they were like, "No, don't do that." Fair enough. So, I removed it. I added something else in, or I did something else. So, I've rehearsed a few versions of this. So, you have to rehearse. But in order to rehearse, the first thing you need to know is know the space. Because if you're rehearsing, and you rehearse for a space that's not actually where you're going to present, it's not effecti...

ve. So, I knew this space. I've worked here before, but I've worked in another studio. But I knew this space. So, I know what it's like to have lights here. I know that I have a certain amount of room. Dan, the director, was like, "You can walk there, "but don't walk there. "You can walk there, but don't walk there." Really helpful. So, I knew all of this stuff when I started rehearsing, 'cause I go here, but I can't go up there. I mean, I can, but someone will yell at me. So, I knew my space. I've got a monitor here, I have a monitor here, I've got a monitor behind. So, I do have some distractions. There's lights. I've got camera people. Chris is over there judging. There's a lot of stuff going on that I have to be aware of in my space. So, when I know my space, I can start to rehearse, because here's the thing, I use the term blocking, it's an acting term, but I block out what I want to do and where I want to go, and I make motions. In theater, we actually tape the floor and say, "That's what the set's gonna look like, "so, don't walk there, "that's actually a wall." And if you keep walking there in rehearsal, you'll probably walk into the wall when you actually perform. But I actually know my space, so, I know where to go. I have water. I know everything that's gonna happen. So, if I choose to use this space, there's a chair here. And chairs are great if I'm gonna give you a story, and I'm gonna talk about it, "I was sitting in my car." But I have a ton of energy. So, I'm not gonna sit very much. It's not as effective for me, 'cause I feel like I'm distancing myself from you. But I put a chair on stage, my house, when I rehearse. So, I know that it's really, really important. The rehearsal builds confidence, and it makes you more comfortable with the material. Some people like to keep it a little fresh. Some people like to know everything. But I suggest you write your presentation. Or, I'm old, so I'm using this terminology, you write your presentation. It helps you. It's really, really important. It gives you that confidence to move forward every time you rehearse it. And rehearse it over and over again. I was listening to a podcast recently, and someone suggested rehearsing the morning of your presentation. I already do that, 'cause it makes me feel more comfortable. I woke up really early this morning, and I rehearsed this, just to feel confident in what I'm giving you. Best part of rehearsing ... Notice I just gave you a little pause, that means it's important, record your rehearsal; audio or video, hopefully both. We'll talk a bit more about that when we talk about some of things that you're gonna try and improve on. But if you record, you get a couple of things. "Am I monotone? "Am I clear?" We talk about color of voice, right? That tone. "Is it exciting? "Do I feel good about what I'm presenting?" We've all been on the phone with somebody, and we get a sense they're smiling from the way they're talking on the phone, right? I can't see them, but I know they're happy, and they're smiling. Those are the things you can pick up in your recording, and you can pick up what's not working. It's really, really important to record. And then you have to listen to it. I worked with somebody once, and I was like, "Hey, record it." And they went, "I rehearsed this 19 times, "and recorded it every time." And I said, "Well, what did you learn from those?" And their response was, "Well, I didn't listen to that." So, make sure you go back and listen. Where is the pace? Where is the flow? I'm trying to give you some momentum. So, how do I figure that out, and how do I make that pace go? So, you want to record it. And I love testing. Somebody just sent me an article on rehearsing in front of your dog, and I think that's great, 'cause you're connecting and trying to connect with the dog, and my dog is pretty opinionated, so, she will walk away if I'm not engaging. But you gotta test in front of a live audience, could be friends, could be coworkers. You're gonna probably lose them in the actually presentation, 'cause their barriers are up. They're like, "I heard this." But do that test. It's really important, 'cause I can now know when people laugh when they don't. There are things I throw in today just 'cause they pop into my head. But a lot of things I have to think about and know how to connect with you, so, I've gotta rehearse that. You gotta test that. And then you gotta get feedback. And this is critical to a strong presentation. How do we normally get feedback? I run the presentation, I ask, and I go, "Tell me what you thought." and everyone's like, "Oh, it was great. "Really like you." "Thanks." But that's not feedback. That's a congratulations and a pat on the back. You've gotta actually demand that feedback, so that you know exactly what people think. And there are a couple of ways that you can do that. One is; be honest, which I love. And you can say to them, "I would love for you to give me one thing that you loved "and one thing that you think I need to work on." Once you get through all the nice, "Hey, you were great, loved it." But go, "Oh, I really appreciate it. "Tell me one thing you liked about my presentation, "and one thing you didn't like." And then people will hopefully tell you. And then you've gotta take that feedback. 'Cause the first thing I want to do in my head is go, "Well, that's 'cause of this or that, "or whatever." instead of just saying, "That's great. "I'm gonna write that down, "and I'm taking that feedback. "Thank you so much." I know there are things about this environment, the length of this class, all the stuff I'm doing, that I knew in part of my priority when I put this together, was, I'm not gonna try to be the most engaging presenter, 'cause then I become character. I'm just gonna try and tell you what I know is effective, and we're gonna work on that. So, get that feedback from people. Maybe somebody will say, "Wish you were a bit more engaging, Andy." And then we'll go from there. How can I do that? So, get that feedback. It's really, really important. Another thing you can do, is have somebody watch that. I'm listening to it. I'm videotaping it. I love that feedback from someone hearing. "Did you hear what I was saying? "Did you get it?" And you get feedback that way. "Well, you lost me in this section. "I don't know what you're talking about here." It's a great way to get feedback, and tighten up your actual presentation. My favorite thing to do for rehearsing, I learned from an actor I worked with once. When I was really young, I got cast in a tour for a Shakespearean play, which was an incredibly bad mistake for the casting director. However, as I went through, and I started to meet other accomplished actors, and I was learning the language and studying it, I felt like everything was flat, and I didn't understand it. Why is it so flat? What's going on? And one of the leads, every time they performed, I'd literally be on stage just staring at them. There was no acting going on, I was just like, that was my acting face, for my of my career by the way. So, what I did, was I asked him, I said, "Hey, how are you so strong with this language? "How come you're so effortless?" And he was great, he was like, "You really want to know the truth?" And I was like, "Yeah." He goes, "I actually sing my lines in the shower." and then he said, "I also create hilarious voices in the shower "with my lines. "And I discover new things when I do that." And he was also, would say a lot, "That gave me the ability to be more modulated, "and comfortable with what I'm saying, "and not take it so seriously." 'Cause if you're doing, you know, we were doing Othello, it's like if you're doing this really dark, deep, meaningful piece, and you're literally doing comic book characters in the shower with your lines, you get more depth to what you're talking about. There have been many times in my life, when my wife walks in and says, "Who are you talking to?" And it's true. But I use this, 'cause it helps me, and it makes me feel more comfortable. So, have some fun with it, and relax, and find those moments. 'Cause what happens is, when I rehearse I do a couple of things: I do those voices, I sing in the shower, because my voices changes. We don't speak in a monotone, we actually speak like this. If you listen and start to pay attention. I'll use this example; when I was working, started to learn about television and film, people started to teach me things about lighting and about audio. So, all of a sudden, any time that I started watching a movie, I wasn't paying attention to the characters, I was like, "Well, they're not lit very well. "I see a shadow." Because I started to pay attention to that. Now that you understand this, when you're in conversations with your friends, listen to how the vocal tone is going, see how people talk. I was having lunch with a coworker the other day, and they were talking literally about yogurt. And we were talking about how you find good yogurt. And this is, I can't remember the type, but they're like, "I love this yogurt. "Maple flavor!" And, so, all day long, I just kept doing this to her, and it was great. But that's how our voices actually work. That's how we sing. So, if you sing those notes, your voice doesn't stay this way in presentation. You don't walk in and go, "I'm a presenter. "Here's my voice. "Here we go." We actually have that modulation built in. So, start to practice in that way. It's really, really helpful. I do that with my body. I do that with the actual presentation. Someone tells me, "You're gonna do a presentation on presentation." So, what I do is, I start to actually physically think about it. When I'm moving and I'm thinking about this presentation, when I'm rehearsing, I'm starting to feel like, "What works? What doesn't?" "And do I feel comfortable and connected to the earth?" It's really, really important to be able to do that. It helps me. So, I fight for that feedback, and it's really, really important. So, I've got that rehearsal down. And now I feel comfortable with the message. I'm gonna do this, I'm not gonna do that. I might do this. I might do that. I don't know, day of, I might be a little weird. But I know the space too. So, now I know where I'm gonna be, what I've got. I've got a limited space here, but it's enough for me. I'm not too demanding. But it's enough. Sometimes your space is literally this. "I have a podium. Hello." So, what happens if you're front of that podium? You can move, right? Unless you have a microphone. 'Cause if I move, and I'm talking to a vast audience, I don't have a lot of space. So, you have to pay attention to that. And I know, based on my rehearsal, how I can actually engage with the audience. Traditional presentation literally puts a physical barrier between you and the audience. I try to remove that. I ask people, "Hey, can I use the microphone this way? "Or just handheld?" so that I can step forward and have a conversation with you, and be part of this conversation. We're together in this. I'm not presenter. Some of the best people I've seen present, who have very little experience, are people who just have a conversation. Like, this is what I do. This is it. So, try to remove those barriers in the space. It's really, really helpful.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Powerpoint Template
Keynote Template
Presentation Resource Links

Ratings and Reviews


This is my second time as an audience member for Creative Live, and I have to tell you all - I'm hooked! I decided to give it a shot because I'm genuinely interested in the subject being covered, it is a wonderful networking opportunity, and its free for audience members - so I receive the course and the bonus materials. For those of you that are nervous about the cameras like I was, let me assure you that you hardly even notice them. If you ever watched a few courses before becoming an audience member, you can tell how little the audience is even shown. Now as for Mr. Whelan - CL couldn't have picked a better presenter to present about presentations. His knowledge and experience reflects in his presentation - he's warm, personable, and if he did rehearse and prepare the way he recommends, it's not noticeable. He's natural and you can relate to every point made. I hope there are other Andrew Whelan courses in the future. I highly recommend CL - as a participant and an audience member - for their variety of course content and bonus materials that I continue to use in my day-to-day. I strongly recommend any class or workshop that includes Andrew Whelan. His advice, experience, and genuine empathetic approach to helping others become better, is invaluable. Thank you Andrew and Thank you Creative Live!

Carolyn Winslow

Thank you! You gave me some fresh ideas to share when I am presenting, and when I'm helping folks be more comfortable when they need to speak in front of others. Good examples, to the point without fluff, and even a bit entertaining. Thanks!

Jack Foxe

This was my first live audience experience, and wow was i shocked how engaged i was! Im someone who has an awful attention span so the fact that i was listening and taking everything in was fantastic. Thanks Andrew for some great tips and making me laugh and thanks to Creative Live for having me in the audience. If anyone who interacts with other people on a regular basis this class is essential!

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