Whilst my friends may hold me in esteem for my Minaj-rapping abilities, my in-depth knowledge of Spielberg’s ‘93 dino classic and my slap-up shepherd’s pie, in my professional life, none of these rather outstanding talents are of use. An enormous problem faced by my generation’s graduates, we leave university with a host of fantastic abilities, quirks and experiences, which, to our friends, are inexplicably valuable. Our personal CV’s practically glitter. Interviews that focussed upon our private and downright peculiar reminiscences rather than our professional biography would be a snitch. And HILARIOUS. ‘Can you think of a time in which you experienced conflict and how you dealt with it?’ ‘Describe a situation when you worked as part of a team?’
Anyone who has spent the last two years job hunting, job applying, and job crying will know that those beautiful memories of ‘the time so-and-so broke a radiator/had an allergic reaction/set chip pan on fire/lost dignity to toffee vodka’ are rendered largely useless and pretty futile when it comes to convincing an employer that you professionally rock (those things still make you who you are though, m’kay?). Your private skill set – dinosaurs, rap, pie – is not your winning hand.
But what might be?
I want to focus on one particular skill. One winning ability that is highly valued (citation needed – it must be though, mustn’t it?) not only by employers, but also by Lordsugar himself. One that, in my line of work, is pretty bloomin’ crucial. One that – almost – straddles the line between what you’ve engaged in professionally and personally. One that might get you the job. One that might keep you out of the boardroom. One, that could earn you a handful of change along the Southbank on a Saturday. It is of course; the art of public speaking.
From dictators to Darcy, great public speaking has won over nations, employers, the voting public, even women. It can prove a useful tool for you both in the office and at the bar/open mic night/golfing range. But for those not born naturally into the highly coveted and extremely elite group of mind blowing public speakers, the whole thing is flipping daunting.
However, there are methods of teaching yourself this ancient art, much like teaching yourself how to make the perfect meringue. First, there will be mistakes. Your speech might turn out limp, or chewy, and imperfect for dessert. Persevere, and there will be success. Once a snivelling and shy character, I myself now work within environments that require talking to OHMYGOD THE PUBLIC everyday. I’ve done the Macarena to a one hundred strong audience. I’ve dodged difficult questions from super inquisitive school groups. I’ve pointed out where on my body my rectum goes (somewhat obvious). I’ve tripped over. I’ve shouted the word ‘poo’ (and accidentally said the word ‘turd’). And, thanks to my work as a public speaking hero, I’ve even been asked to pose for photos. Big thumbs up. It felt only natural that I should collate my advice and experiences, along with that of others, in order to provide a comprehensive guide to public speaking.
Don’t bother using it. It is probably safe to assume that it is not working, in which case, simply yell at your audience.
“OI! Yeaah, OIII. Mics not working…”
The microphone is in essence a show piece – its your prop. Cuddle it, and it will make you feel safer. Use it even, to hide your face. You’ll see that Shy Ronnie uses this technique wonderfully. In addition, by holding the microphone, you will give your hands an object to play with, thus distracting you from your attempts to speak to a crowd.
Compliments are great – and your audience will love them. Say the right thing, and those guys will be eating out of the palm of your hand. Wonderful examples include Kanye’s kind words about Bey’s music video, back at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and Bridge’s sweet attempts to list the top thirty Books of Our Time.
Kanye in particular, has had such a successful record with public speaking that during filming Shy Ronnie I for SNL, Rihanna lamented that King Yeezy would have been a better choice to star alongside her.
Pretty important, don’t you think? You want your words to form witty and interesting sentences, that have the audience hanging on your every mouthful. Movie stars have a wonderful back catalogue of inspiring, well thought out and frankly, RIP ROARING acceptance speeches that could provide you with some much needed inspiration. Shy Ronnie also has a beautiful way with words, so long as you can hear them. Swear freely, reference your you know what and throw out one wisecrack after another, and you’ll be a star.
In my line of work, we often invite volunteers to take the stage alongside us. Its polite to get their names. Perhaps you could even offer them a nickname (you should probably keep it PG13), which will certainly bring humour to your discourse; “And here’s the man we all call…
…Mister Fitzherbert. Because that, is his name.”
And finally, on the subject of words, it is important to note that there will simply be times when you won’t need to use them. Allow the audience to think on the topic, and offer breaks in your speaking so that they may applause, cheer, and even whoop. It is often the case that expressions and emotion can convey so much – Halle Berry was once so wonderfully overcome with gratitude that her tears spoke to the audience for a good minute and a half. If it works for Halle, it can work for you too.
Even the best public speaker needs to ensure that they are nice to look at. Enthrall your audience with a loose nasal crater, a fun beret, an exotic piece by Gucci, chocolate stains or even a one-liner jumper.
You might find that your body language speaks more than you do. Hunched over shoulders are a mark of subtle confidence. Ron has the body language thing locked down; looking down as you speak will enable you to check that your feet are not only looking delectable, but also that you are standing in the right spot for maximum comfort.
Clap. In fact, if the audience won’t oblige you, clap yourself. Start the clapping off. They’ll soon follow your suit.
Tell them who you were.
“Thank you very much for listening, my name was Steve.”
Because now the show/speech is over, that is no longer your name. The person you are in the present, well, that never even mattered. You were Steve, and now that you – and they – are clapping, you’re not.
And there you have it. Steve probably read this guide before embarking upon a successful career in public speaking. And now, you will be able to do it too. Whether its in interviews, at book launches, in Lord Sugar’s boardroom, during bank robberies, or as part of an educational team in a museum, your ability to speak publically will rock an audience’s world. Make your professional CV glitter, and throw yourself into public