One of the most wonderful, beautiful things about live performance is the fact that there are no do-overs. Sure, you rehearsed and practised and polished and made sure that every ‘i’ was dotted and ‘t’ crossed. When it comes down to it, though, that particular performance in front of that particular audience is a one shot deal. The delivery is temporal, fleeting, and never to be repeated in the exact same way.
For the performer – the speaker – this can be a frightening reality. Generally, the more anxious or inexperienced someone is, the more hyper-focused they are on “getting it right”. This translates into “getting it perfect” and, for these speakers, is gauged largely as to whether or not they delivered the presentation exactly as they wrote it out in their script.* If they didn’t get it perfect, then they got it wrong.
But it’s those little moments where the performer gets things “wrong” that the beautiful intimacy of a live talk or live performance comes through. Usually, the audience doesn’t notice those things we think we got so very wrong; they almost always, though, feel the speaker’s emotional wall come down a bit. Believe it or not, this can actually increase the sense of intimacy and connection between speaker and audience.
Sometimes, those things we got “wrong” allow a new kind of spontaneous brilliance to shine through, and can take a performance in a wonderful direction. This is where a performer or a speaker can turn a mistake into serendipity. This is where a performer makes magic.
Give yourself the gift of flexibility to make little mistakes when speaking and to examine them objectively afterwards. Develop the discipline to take advantage of them by drilling your spontaneous speaking. Embrace the single-take nature of live performance and learn to love the imperfections in your delivery; sometimes getting things wrong can make the performance feel even more right!**
*This is one of the many reasons why I don’t recommend creating scripts for your presentations.
**You still need to prepare your backside off, though. Freeing yourself from perfection does not mean disregarding preparation or practice.