How to Rehearse

by Doug Stevenson 2000

How To Rehearse

Many of my students have asked if rehearsing in front of the mirror is a good idea. It is not. Rather than looking outside of you to see what something looks like, look inside to see what it feels like. You movement, gesture and inflection all come from within. They are organic first, then they are choreographed. In my work with speakers of all levels the most difficult concept to communicate is that of congruence. Story Theater is all about technique and how to technically achieve an optimal best result. The technique however can only build on a foundation of truth; the truth that comes from your desire to touch peoples lives.

Given that, rehearse on your feet and out loud. Once you have done your writing homework, practice your material on your feet and out loud so that you can integrate the concepts and words with your body. Too many speakers develop their material in their head and then find themselves feeling awkward in front of their audiences. Find movement and gesture at home, in rehearsal. Create a space that resembles the front of the room, perhaps even block off a section of the floor with masking tape to give you and idea of the space you will be moving in. Make it twelve feet wide and six feet deep to start. Then move within it as you practice your lines. Visualize the scene you are portraying and then re-create it on your imaginary stage. Work from the inside out first, and then slowly choreograph the story for maximum impact.

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I now really get how the great entertainers do it Carson, Leno, it’s with calculated detail, not just a genetic disposition or luck. I learned that I really can be funny. Thanks so much for helping me break out of my box. I think it will help me skyrocket.

Sue Artt

I learned more in two days with Doug than with any other speaker. I now have a model to develop new materials. The class was cheap for the value received.

Carol Mills

Humor Tip – Exaggeration

Getting laughs is complex. It’s not any one thing that gets them; it’s a combination. If you watch comedy concerts you will see that each comedian has his or her own unique style. What they all have in common however is that they use their voice, face and body in concert with their content. It is a holistic comedic experience if you will. A powerful comedic tool is exaggeration. Bill Cosby and Lily Tomlin are masters at this. Cosby will stretch a reaction to something that has just happened a mile long. He’ll take up to ten seconds to milk the moment. His facial expressions speak very eloquently. Tomlin exaggerates with her voice. She creates vocal caricatures. They are not real by any sense, by comical in their exaggeration. Use exaggeration in your writing, reacting and vocalizations. Practice being too broad at first. It will help you to attain the freedom you need to truly be funnier.


Copyright 2005 by Doug Stevenson. Reprinted with permission. Doug Stevenson is the creator of the Story Theater Method. He is an author, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. Reach Doug at or 800.573.6196