“Four weeks, you rehearse and rehearse,
Three weeks and it couldn’t be worse,
One week—will it ever be right?
Then out of the hat, it’s that big first night.”
Hat tip to the ineffable Cole Porter, whose work I’ve loved for decades. I even sang those very words in a long-ago summer production of Kiss Me, Kate! (I played the maid.) So I am no stranger to rehearsal. I’ve even given a speech or two myself, and rehearsed those just as I advise my clients to.
But this process of rehearsing for my TEDx debut Sunday has been positively excruciating. I wrote the speech in a burst of inspiration back in October, but did I start learning it then? I’m sure you know the answer to that.
I corralled a bunch of colleagues to stay a few minutes after our in-person meeting last week so I could deliver the speech to a live audience. (Fenway has heard it lots but doesn’t offer much feedback.) Did I learn it then? Does two pages count?
For the last week I have been trying to stuff at least one page of text into my head every day. I finally have the whole 6.5 pages in there with less than four days to go. But now instead of spitting out a page or two at a time, I have to rehearse the whole thing, start to finish, however many times I can do it until I bore myself to sleep.
Next up will be finding the right shoes—running through the speech wearing each of the candidates. Then wearing the whole outfit. Then doing it while walking the dog, doing my dishes, walking around my house swinging my arms.
And each time my brain begs me to stop, I offer a silent apology to every client I’ve ever prodded to rehearse their speeches. I’m sorry if your rehearsals are as achingly boring as mine. But I’d rather rehearse myself to tears than step out on that stage and forget what I’m there to say.
I bet you would, too.