FROM THE EDITOR
Good Housekeeping’s Editor, Lindsay, on what she’s thinking right now…
I’ve heard it said that some people are more afraid of addressing a crowd of people than of death! Melodramatic maybe, but there’s no denying that public speaking is up there with the top stressors in life. I’ve seen household names literally white and shaking before they step up to the podium. I won’t name names, because it’s not fair, but these are people for whom public speaking is a way of life. The agonies they go through beforehand are just the price of admission to a job they love.
I get to do a fair amount of public speaking in my role as Editor of Good Housekeeping, and I have to say, it’s not my favourite thing. Sitting here with a laptop feels like a much more relaxed and intimate way to communicate. But over the years, I have come to terms with the fact that there are times when it’s the right thing to do. And you just have to get on with it.
In all our lives there are situations that will call for us to stand in front of a room full of people and talk – from giving a presentation at work to making a speech at a family occasion. So, in this issue, we’ve turned to Sarah Brown, the businesswoman and wife of a former Prime Minister, to share her advice on how you can find your public voice in our Confidence Masterclass.
The very best public speakers are not those who speak off the cuff but those who take the trouble to sit down and write out, in full, what they want to say – and then learn it by heart! Most people speak at 180 to 200 words a minute, so a 10-minute talk requires writing 2,000 words, or around eight pages of double-spaced A4. So this is no small undertaking. But if you attend a talk by someone renowned for their wit and erudition, you can be sure this is what they have done at some point. When you’ve earned your stripes that way, you can progress on to notecards with brief aides-mémoire. But be warned: you need to have a good handle on your subject to do this… Notecards have an irritating habit of reshuffling themselves! I once saw novelist Jilly Cooper stand up to speak and drop all her notes on the floor. She just giggled in her Jilly way and carried on regardless. I have rarely heard anyone funnier. But my favourite piece of advice came from designer Jeff Banks. Shortly before we were due to host an awards ceremony, he whispered to me: ‘Best cure for nerves is to remember that if you trip up and fall flat on your face, you will give the audience the best night out they have had in years. No one remembers even a good speech. But they will be grateful to you for ever if you give them a great dinner-party story.’ Speak to you next month.
‘I have seen household names literally white and shaking before they step up to the podium’
Ready for your close-up? Go public with this month’s Confidence Masterclass
Lindsay Nicholson Follow me on Twitter @Lindsnich or email Lindsay@goodhousekeeping.co.uk