Steal This Tip! #2 offers a suggestion to help you avoid disaster in a section of your presentation after you've blown it in rehearsal.
Some years ago, I was doing a show called PARADE — a very lush and moving drama that tackled huge issues. One day, while rehearsing my first song, I screwed up the lyric "two sets of china," and accidentally sang "two sets of children"- whoops! For a character like the one I was playing, a woman without children trying to find her purpose, this was an issue. At first, I laughed it off. It was rehearsal, right? That's where mistakes happen! No harm, no foul.
While I should have kept my mind on that path, my thoughts had other ideas. That mistake stuck in my craw, and I started to fear that, despite my best efforts, I was going to blow it when the moment came. It's like the old trick where someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant — inevitably, all you can think of is that darn pachyderm, and all I could think of was swapping the word "china" for "children."
However, I found a way to deal with it. I started running through the lyrics of that song before every rehearsal, and eventually before every show. I spent extra time going over that one section of lyrics; speaking them slowly, with overdone articulation, in repetition. It became part of my vocal and physical warm up every night.
It helped me not only assuage my fears of screwing up the lyrics, but get my mind focused on the character's objectives. I was able to step away from the spiraling fear of a screw-up by taking some action on it. After that warm up, I felt I'd succeeded in nailing the lyrics, so there was no need to fear anymore! It also helped me think about the world of the play, and of my character. It turned out to be a good "window-in" to what I was about to do for the next two and a half hours.
When you've got a tricky section to a presentation, give it a little extra TLC. Just running through the words before you step before your audience can help assure your racing mind that you're ready to go. Add it to your stall warm-up, and you've got some great screw-up prevention.