“Why do I have to rehearse” is a constant refrain that I hear. “I know my part” “I don’t have the time” “I don’t want to appear over-rehearsed” “I have a client meeting” “I don’t want to look stale” These are all reasons I have heard to try to avoid rehearsal.
First, let’s talk about the goal of rehearsal. Rehearsal is not about learning your part. You learn your part at home or in your office, not in front of the pitch team. By the time you get to rehearsal, you should already know your part. Rehearsal is about knowing your part so well that you can focus on the subtleties of presenting, connecting with the audience. Think about actors when they are rehearsing. They don't stop when they simply learn the lines. They stop when they have somehow found a way to connect thith the audience.
But there is more to rehearsal than simply connecting with the audience. Part of rehearsal is about letting the rest of the pitch team now what your are going to say. Whey everyone is aware of everyone else’s part, they come across s a single pitch unit instead of a bunch of presenters each presenting somewhat disconnected sections of content. This ability to connect as team goes a long way toward giving the client the impression that you will be able to work with their team.
I get it…you don’t want to rehearse because you don’t want to rehearse. It is uncomfortable, awkward and generally unpleasant. You are self-conscious because you make mistakes. My point is that we need to get that self-consciousness and those mistakes out in rehearsal otherwise the mistakes will be there in front of the client.
One final reason EVERYONE on the team needs to rehearse is that once one person doesn’t rehearse, the non-rehearsal bug spreads like cancer and suddenly, no one is rehearsing. The fact of the matter is that teams that rehearse more tend to win more. Rehearsal doesn’t cure a bad deck but by the same token, endlessly tweaking the deck at the 11th hour doesn't make it any better either. At some point, the presentation will benefit from more rehearsing and less tweaking. A client probably won’t notice the last few hours’ worth of changes to the deck but they will notice if you do a poor job presenting.
So to answer your questions....Yes you do have to rehearse.