The opening night of a show in London’s West End is scary for everyone involved; the most recent dress rehearsals may have gone OK, but now there are hundreds of actual paying customers (and some ruthless reviewers). Success tonight is vital if the show is to continue, and if so, it may run for many years and become a money-making machine, launching careers and making everyone involve famous within their field. And if this juggernaut is set on course, there can’t be any major mistakes on any night.
Q: So, when is the show perfect?
A: When it closes, at the very end of its successful run.
Because every time the show is performed, it improves slightly and becomes more efficient: the crew get quicker at scene changes, actors learn certain audible cues in the scenes preceding theirs (so they’re ready at precisely the right time without any fuss), and overall confidence within the production increases. The improvements in each show become smaller and smaller, but they happen every time.
Spotlight on You
It’s the same with your talk/presentation/pitch. You probably won’t repeat the same one every day for years, but you can still benefit a huge amount from rehearsal, during which you will improve your:
- Overall confidence in the piece: you become at one with the material, instead of just being able to remember it.
- Vocabulary: taking the time to select certain important words gives you richer material.
- Timing: getting used to hitting certain points at the right time means you can effortlessly deliver the correct duration.
Repeat your talk, experiment, reject the weak bits and retain the parts that work. Hone it until it feels natural, like a conversation (top tip: re-word it each time so that you don’t end up reciting a script like a robot).