The Oscar-winning film The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, tells the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth) of England, father of Queen Elizabeth II. The king, who suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned king and there is nothing more terrible for a leader - in any walk of life - than finding it difficult to express himself to his public. The ability of speak counts for precious points and can make all the difference when the need is to deliver a compelling message to a client or sell your product or service.
According to a survey of 3,000 Americans, and quoted by the Sunday Times magazine, 41 per cent said their worst fear was public speaking against 19% who stated the biggest fear had to do with death. Of 10,000 Australians polled, one-third preferred death to public speaking.
However, in such a situation, it is important to find help. In the movie, his wife, Elizabeth, and the future Queen Mother, arranges a speech therapist to help him overcome the problem.
Public speaking is one of the main requirements in the careers of leaders and professionals. And if you also have the problem, it's time to fix it. Each case has a specific level of solution, but the average one only requires training and gaining more confidence in yourself.
Unlike George VI, Larry King is a master of speaking and communicating and in his book How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere he confesses that he always loved speaking so much that when he started, he went anyplace that would hear him speak.
He was so anxious to become a public speaker that he had no requirements at all. "Pay me what you want. If you don't have any money, I'll speak for free. Just tell me when and where, I will be there," wrote Larry King. In his book, Larry gives some important tips on becoming a good speaker. He said practising ahead of time is crucial and equally important is the need to consider a public speech like an informal conversation with a group of friends, but it is also important to have confidence in the subject you are talking about.
Some quick advice included:
Practise the delivery, key words and the time allowed.
Never memorise a speech word by word, be natural
Be brief and do not use repetitious information
Preparation is the first step towards a good result. Know what you are going to discuss, organise ideas in a didactic manner that is easily understood and always take notes to refresh your memory in case of an emergency. Winston Churchill, a contemporary of George VI, kept in his pocket the key points of the speech.
The King's Speech also made it clear that debilitating speech is not a genetic issue. Queen Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI, has good oratory skills. She is a great public speaker with the ability to use clear words and text. The most famous of her many speeches was at the death of Princess Diana on September 9, 1997 and was even featured in the movie The Queen and which fetched a Best Actress Oscar for Helen Mirren.
One final advice from the other King: "Talk should not be a challenge, a grim obligation, or a way of filling up time. Talk is mankind's great invention, it's how we make connections among us, and it's one of the pleasures that life has to offer. Think of every conversation as an opportunity.
Well put, Larry King.
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