There’s No Substitute for Stage Time
“I think it’s a fallacy that the harder you practice the better you get. You only get better by playing.” – Buddy Rich
Okay, I don’t think practising is a bad thing. I don’t think that Buddy Rich meant that either. I think what the great jazz drummer meant was that there are some things you can only master on a real stage. Similarly, sports coaches talk about the fact that there is no substitute for game time.
When it comes to public speaking, I certainly learnt that being in an environment where all you do is practise, just makes you great at practising. When it came to the real deal, it was frustrating, but at the same time enlightening, to discover that I was still nervous and anxious after so much time invested.
It was only once I started getting regular experience in front of real audiences, that I gradually became more confident. I learned to manage my physical and mental responses and become more aware of how I was interacting with the audience.
That is essentially how my training is intended to work these days. I give you some tools and strategies and a chance to try them in a safe environment. But then you need to go out and apply them in the real world – evaluate how it went – tweak and re-apply. Keep improving.
Don’t use practising as an excuse to procrastinate or as a crutch to convince yourself you are doing something, when deep down you know you’ve reached the point where you need to play to a real crowd to get better.