Good House­keep­ing’s Ed­i­tor, Lind­say, on what she’s think­ing right now…

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

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@good­house­keep­

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