Easy to Use Rehearsal Techniques
Now we're gonna start putting some of these things together, start synthesizing these ideas of how to prepare. This idea of stage presence, being a more confident, comfortable person, a version of yourself in the room, but now, let's do that thing. So, let's get a volunteer up, and we're gonna go through some rehearsal techniques. Rehearsal techniques will then lead into people getting up and actually giving a very, very short presentation. So, who would like to be the volunteer for this? Maybe someone who hasn't volunteered in a second? And would like to experience, give her a round of applause.
I'm gonna give this to you, or do you want me to keep it?
No, you can keep going.
So, once again, you can address the audience. Get the reps in. Tell 'em your name, maybe tell 'em why, maybe, you're a part of this class today.
Okay, hello, my name is Shaweet, and I'm a part of this class because I've just moved to the Bay area, and I'll be getting new jobs. I'm in grad school, ...
so I have to introduce myself all the time, and I'd like for it to sound unique or special each time.
Wonderful, well thank you for being here.
So, Shaweet, we are going to basically take something very, very simple that a lot of us know by rote in terms of the script itself, and then play with it. One of the things that we like to do with Speechless with our individual clients, our presenter clients, even though we use improvisation as the building block for everything, it's the fuel that makes everything we do go, we do realize, and that's for everyone at home as well, that a lot of presentations are scripted, and there's no way around that. If they're high-stakes demos of some new product, every word must be perfect, and so you have to either memorize it or use confidence monitor notes, we understand that there are scripts involved even though we preach improvisation as a tool as well as sometimes the complete output, but this is an exercise. We're gonna focus on something that is scripted, so the very simple song, Happy Birthday. Everyone, I think, may know that, but I'll ask you, do you know the words to Happy Birthday?
I do know the words.
Great. (laughing) Just had to ask. (laughing) I've asked simple things like that before, and people have said, "Nope, never heard of it." So let's just go through it one time really quickly. You don't have to sing, but we're gonna use that almost like as a very tiny monologue, or a speech, so just go through the simple words, and you can use my name as the person who's getting sung to, I guess. (laughing) That'll make me feel great.
Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear, I forgot your name.
Sammy. (laughing) Happy birthday to you.
Great, well that felt great. It did. So, that's all we're gonna do. I know that's simple. One of the reasons is, it's very short. It's something most people already know, and it also has repetition of certain sentences, so it forces you to have variety in the way that you speak. Now, this is just for everyone at home and in the room, this is a great way to do this exercise if you don't have a speech coming up, or you don't have something memorized, but if you do, I encourage you to use these techniques with the actual material and content that you're going to do. So, the first one we're gonna do is called the Smile Thru. I believe Michelle mentioned it earlier. Smiling is important to stage presence. So, what you're going to do this time, we just saw her do it. Kind of like the neutral, as I like to call it, on-your-feet first draft. So we know what that looked like, sounded like, felt like. You're now gonna do it again, and this time, you're going to exaggerate. Kinda like, remember when we were doing the tongue twisters, and we were exaggerating diction and articulation. I want you to exaggerate a smile while you say it. It's not gonna feel natural. It's not how you would perform it, but exaggerating it will allow it to come back to a more default place that's a little bit more natural, but first, let's just do it one time with an exaggerated smile.
'Kay. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear (groaning)
You can just endow me with whatever.
Happy birthday. You're memorable, really. Happy birthday to you. (laughing)
Alright, well, you know what? Maybe we need another volunteer. (laughing) No, that was great. So, let's talk really quickly about that. Besides the fact that she does not remember my name, what did you get? What was the difference between first version, which was totally fine, and this version, with an exaggerated smile. What were you getting in terms of this stage presence stuff? Or maybe new things, yes.
[ Male Audience Member] Connection and energy.
Connection and energy. So you're saying you got more of that, or it was?
[Male Audience Member] More, more.
More of it.
[Female Audience Member] It seemed a little tense to me.
A little tense, yeah, 'cause we told her to go to the nth degree with it, and you felt that she was about to burst at the seams, maybe. Yes.
I felt like you were present. 'Cause you were actively participating in the process.
Yeah, maybe it's because I am the person up here standing next to her, but I instantly kind of mirrored what she did. I smiled bigger than I probably would have if she didn't smile, and that's the kinda thing I want us to think about, is there's an improv saying that I like to perpetuate, and people have different ways of saying this, but I say it as, you teach the audience how to watch you. So, a lot of times, when we go into a scenario, and someone's presenting, giving a speech, a demo, whatever it is, we don't know what we're about to see. We don't know how to watch it. Is this gonna be five minutes? Is it an hour? Are there slides involved? Is it gonna be funny? Is this gonna be a bunch of gobldy gook jargon that I don't even understand? We don't know how to watch you, so you have a little bit of control over that in how you use your stage presence. Because, if you show me, hey, I am enjoying myself being here. I'm happy to be here. I'm a likable, welcoming person, then the audience will start to mirror that a little bit, even if the content goes in a completely different direction, you have control over how the audience perceives you even from the first moments. So, now I want you to do it again, and this time, so, we've had kind of like the two ends of the spectrum. We did no smiling whatsoever, because you didn't know to do that, and that was intentional, and then you exaggerated the smile, so now, I want you to do it one last time, with the goal in mind to just keep smiling, but more of your natural comfortable smile, and just do the Happy Birthday song. My name is Sammy. (laughing)
Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Sammy Sammy, happy birthday to you.
Give her a round of applause. (cheering) So take a seat, and Shaweet, let's talk to them first, and then we'll talk to you. So we did that three times. One time kind of like a neutral. Second time, exaggerated. Third time, more natural, her version of natural. So what did you see that third time?
I liked it that you embraced Sammy twice. (laughing) Sammy Sammy.
Made up for it, thank you. But no present, huh? Weird. Go ahead.
It just seemed a little more, I felt, engaged with me, so I thought that was really nice. I felt that a little the first time through, too, though.
Did you feel the, I don't remember the word used, but it was kind of something along the lines of strained. Did you feel like it was forced or strained that time?
No, no, it wasn't tense at all.
Not tense, that's the word you used.
I think it was.
Yeah, so she found that kind of like middle ground, which is what we're going for. We do a lot of exercises. Already, we've done them within this class, where we'll go to that nth degree. A big thing, again, our philosophy is, if you're a presenter, you're a performer. Performers are told time and time again by directors, go as far as you can go. I will bring you back. 'Cause sometimes we think we're going, like I'm, "Oh, look how big my gestures are," and the director's like, "Nope, you barely moved." You have to go as far as you can go, and then the director, and in this case, a lot of times the director will be you, and I encourage you to film yourself when you can. Just see where you go. How far do you go? But she found a very natural place with her smile. Yes, John.
You were talking about where you go. It seemed like you were in the same place, but you seemed much closer to us because of your mood and your naturalness.
So you mean she physically didn't move,
but you felt like she was emotionally more connected
or something, potentially. Cool, great. Well, that's just a really simple one, and now we're gonna do another one with another volunteer.
Can I say something before we move on?
Yeah, of course.
Because one of the things I love just about that brief exercise that may not be the intention of this exercise, but I think it's important to notice, is you did something, what, three, four times? And I feel like I know you better just from how you handled it, how you played with Sammy, all of those things, so we also got to see a little bit of who you are, and I think those are wonderful moments to embrace as well, that when you're doing this at home, and maybe you're recording yourself, you might notice that there's something really funny that happens, or something really lovely that you do that can become part of the talk that you're giving, and I think that's part of why we do this, and watch ourselves, is to notice, oh, when I said, "Happy birthday" like that, I actually really liked it. Maybe I wanna go ahead and be playful in that moment. And I liked seeing that about you. I enjoyed it.
Yeah, one thing I like about these different types of run-throughs and rehearsals, and we have dozens and dozens of these, we're just doing two of them today, is that they isolate an aspect of your performance, whether it be part of your presence or part of your content, or whatever, it isolates it. So, therefore, you don't have too many things to think about. You have a very simple goal. You do the same thing, you just smile. Or your do the same thing, and you just talk as fast as you can. Or you do the same thing, and you just do a character from a movie you like. It doesn't really matter what it is, but just isolating on one particular goal allows you to see that domino affect of what happens if you just try different things, and there's no consequences, and as we work with individuals, we start to layer those on. Okay, now you're gonna do the Smile Thru, and you're gonna play that character from the movie, and you're gonna speak as loudly as you can, and what happens then? A new output. I almost think of it as a slot machine mechanic. You just pull the lever, and whatever comes out is gonna be something interesting, and you have to know where you wanna kind of stop and start the different elements of the performance, but that one's just focused on smiling, and this one's gonna focus on what we've already done, really, with tongue twisters, which is how quickly you can speak. So, let's have another volunteer up. John, give him a round of applause. (cheering) Now we just used Happy Birthday, and I thought that was very effective, but I know you speak a lot. I don't know if you have a couple of lines off the top of your head that you maybe have used in a recent presentation, or maybe an upcoming presentation that you feel like would be appropriate in this setting. It's just pretty harmless language, (laughing) but something that's memorized.
I don't know why I made that sound like you do completely R-rated material. (laughing)
Yeah, so it might be something like, today we're gonna talk about brainstorming and how to work together.
Great. Today we're gonna talk about brainstorming and how to work together. Is there maybe a follow-up thought after that just so we can make it just a teensy bit longer, or?
And we're gonna jump up on the board and start prototyping.
And we're gonna jump off the board and start prototyping, alright, great. Put both of them together, and just like Shaweet did, just directly address the audience, and just whatever your baseline version of that is.
Today we're gonna talk about brainstorming and how to work together, and we're gonna jump up and start prototyping.
Perfect. Alright, so, take stock of, obviously what you perceived and observed there, and this time, with the Speed Thru, which is pretty self-explanatory, just like with the tongue twister, he's gonna go as fast as he can. So, let's do it one time as fast as you possibly can.
Today we're gonna talk about brainstorming, and how to work together, and we're gonna jump up and prototype in the board.
Alright, great. So what did we notice really quickly?
[Male Audience Member] It changed.
The words changed, yeah.
[Male Audience Member] The words changed.
Now, the words may have changed because he got tripped up. They may have changed because, oh that isn't memorized, and right there, I had to, in the moment, save myself. What is the answer? Do you think you know why?
It's hard to go fast, I think.
It's hard to go fast. Anything else you observed?
Also, he start using hands in his speech, probably because he wasn't comfortable in speaking so fast, you were helping with your hands to explain your ideas.
Yeah, it was kinda like physically revving himself up. But did he look uncomfortable?
[Female Audience Member] I don't know. I kind of understand that this is an exercise which is designed to make us uncomfortable to an extent, so I don't know if it's like he's naturally uncomfortable because he's supposed to be uncomfortable.
Sure, sure, but the output was not something that was, to my eye test, looking uncomfortable. It's interesting. So this might be something for someone like John who maybe isn't as physically expressive, you may say, 'cause we work with people all the time that had all these different challenges and personality traits, and we say, "Okay, well, maybe if you want to gesture more "and have more of a physical stage presence, "you just need to do this one little thing, "turn this one little knob." And one of those knobs is just talking faster. It makes you kind of like do this in your head, and, therefore, your body kinda follows. It doesn't mean that output is the perfect gesture, or the perfect body language. It just means that that might help you get there, and then again, just trying to kind of course-correct. Okay, what gestures do I wanna make. But it's also a great one, again, for memorization. If you can't go really quickly, then it's not memorized. If that's what you need to do. We don't always encourage memorization because of that. Let's do it one more time, and let's go faster than that, and let's also try to speed up the movements themselves as well.
Can I have a different phrase?
You can have a completely different phrase.
Do you have it?
Right, I have it.
Alright. So as fast as you can. Even faster than that.
Thanks for joining me today. I'm so excited. We're gonna work on developing new ideas for your company.
Alright, very good. So, let's check in really quickly with them. We didn't know what that phrase was gonna be, but we're really focusing on him. It's not about the content as much as it's about the person, the stage presence, so what difference did we just see in that, even if the words are arbitrary? Was there anything you liked about what John did?
[Female Audience Member] The emphasis on the new ideas.
Okay, so he was emphatic on a particular word that you liked. What else?
I'm sorry. Even though he was speaking very fast, in that speed, he emphasized the most important part of that sentence, well, in his speech.
Yeah, he wasn't monotone.
There was vocal variety, and he kinda punched a word or two. Yeah, sometimes just going faster gives you a different rhythm completely. You were gonna say.
The first time he spoke really quickly, I felt a little bit nervous, like he was pointing at me. And then this second time, he was more open, so I was more excited or ready to do whatever project he wanted to do.
Yeah, something I noticed is you kind of bent down at one point. You're a very tall person. I liked that. I don't know. Maybe someone else felt the opposite 'cause you're sitting and I'm standing next to him, but I liked it. It made me feel like he was trying to connect. Anything else? Great, so take a seat. Give him a round of applause. (clapping) So those are just two really, really simple ones. Essentially, what we're getting at here is, first and foremost, you need to rehearse. You need to rehearse. So many people don't rehearse their presentations, because one, they don't have time, two, they don't think it's necessary, three, they're not enjoying the whole process in general, so why would they wanna do it more than that one time, but that's why it perpetuates it not being fun and scary. If you only get up and do the show, think of it again as a show, if you only do the show when the audience is there, how good can that show possibly be? You have to rehearse. You have to be ready for the audience. You would never go see something on Broadway, and in the Playbill, you open, and they're like, they've totally never done this before. Thank you for your hundred dollars. You know, you want to know that this prepared. This is thought out. They're comfortable with it. It's as good as it's gonna get, and that your time, and maybe money, 'cause sometimes we go to conferences and pay to watch people speak clearly, is not gonna be wasted. That it's gonna be valued. So, rehearsal is important, and there's a lot of different ways to do it. Those are just a couple of ways, and I think that the simplest way to do it is just to kinda focus on little elements, and kinda just tweak something and just be really aware of what comes out on the other side, and take it or leave it. If it works for you, keep it going.