Cliff Kennedy is a Communication Success Coach and Public Speaking Consultant with 35+ years of experience in the industry. He is also a TEDx Speech Coach at TEDx Palo Alto, a guest lecturer at UC Berkley College of Engineering, and a Microsoft MVP.

In this episode, we talk about presenting successfully, rehearsing, what are some approaches and exercises you can do, and the 7 focus areas of rehearsing.


People nowadays are busy and do not spend much time rehearsing. But Cliff tells us that you play as you practice – if you practice poorly, you play poorly. Delivering a presentation is a performance, and just like for a sports performance – you have to prepare for it, if you don’t, you’re not going to do your very best.

Cliff says that the magic formula is 50/50 – 50% of preparation time for putting the content together and the other 50% rehearsing. He says to his clients to stop writing their content at one point and talk it out loud unless it is a formal speech where you must have the notes. “Writing notes in the PowerPoint is not rehearsing”, Cliff warns us.

The 7 Focus Areas of Rehearsals

He shares with us that he has systematized a performance success framework with 5 steps – purpose, strategy, preparation which includes content rehearsal, execution, and advancement which is the rehearsal success. It is about how you can break things down and perform better.

Then the rehearsal internal approach he has is with these 7 focus areas:
mindset, perception of time, structure, rehearsal, dynamics, movement, technology. To hear about them in more detail, tune in to the episode!

Approaches and exercises

The rehearsing process starts by making sure your content is done. Working on your slides while rehearsing is not rehearsing. Afterward, you are playing a role – the subject-matter expert, the coach, the leader, or the provocateur.

You have to internalize the big ideas you are throwing out there, not memorize them. See the structure and break it down into parts and rehearse on parts, turn it into a continuous process. Also, push your boundaries with timing your pauses, or your dynamics, or emotions, and work on that in rehearsal as well.

How many times should you rehearse? 5-10 times is not too much, Cliff tells us. The people that rehearse the most are usually the highest-level executives, but this is shifting as executives hire coaches to work with their people. And after they see the value in this, it is over, they do it again and again.

It all goes down to performance and value, and what Cliff calls “RCO” – your Return on Communication Opportunity. “And whether it’s these big events or it’s just a conversation with a customer – there’s real money involved, real capital that you are investing,” Cliff tells us.


Check out Kennedy Speech Communications’ website or contact him on his personal LinkedIn.

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