“Could you say a few words?”


The after dinner speech – If you were asked to make one what would your reaction be? Would it be ‘water off a duck’s’ back’? ‘A walk in the park’? A request that you would take with a pinch of salt, confident in your abilities to and entertain a room full of people – Or would it be a cause of intense stress and panic? Would you be engaging in amiable conversation right up until the moment you were called to stand up – or would you be counting down the minutes with sweating palms and a churning stomach, unable to concentrate on what the people around you were saying?

It isn’t just after dinner occasions that require the art of public speaking. Family occasions, management meetings and leaving parties are just some occasions where we might be required to speak in public and it’s a skill that can make or break a career. Rowan Pelling, writing in The Telegraph last year said:

‘I am forever grateful to my drama teacher, Mrs Vaughan, who told me bluntly, aged 16, that I would never be any great shakes as an actor, but might have some potential as a speaker. She coached me rigorously as part of the school public-speaking team and when in 1997, as the editor of a desperately obscure publication, I was unexpectedly called to make a live broadcast on Radio Four, I had the tools to do it. My career, such as it is, is founded on that moment.’

Many people are nervous about speaking in public. For some people speaking in public, whether that is at work, in front of colleagues or in a meeting, can be a truly excruciating experience.

Rowan Pelling says: ‘Many people have pointed out that Barack Obama does not possess the most outstanding intellect of his generation, but he is one of its finest orators. And that has made all the difference.’



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