Posts Tagged ‘Duchess of Cambridge’

Difficult public speaking task successful

Hats off to the Duchess of Cambridge. She took on a difficult public speaking task recently and came through with shining colours.

She was a little nervous

“Kate”, as she’s known to most of us, delivered her first official speech at the East Anglian Children’s Hospice this week and, like most new speakers, she was a little nervous. Like most speakers, she struggled at the beginning, even though she undoubtedly worked with highly skilled presentation trainers and public speaking coaches. But she got through it fine and, overall, she did quite well.

She looked down at her notes

If I wanted to be hyper-critical, I could talk about how she looked down at her notes as much as she looked at her audience but for me, that was a small issue. She’s not accustomed to speaking in public. She is the future Queen of England and is therefore required to stick to her script to the letter and, as such, she knew that every word she spoke would be recorded, transmitted to millions of people, evaluated, assessed and criticized. Not your run-of-the-mill after-dinner address, even if she did have presentation training from top public speaking trainers.

A formidable group

She had plenty at stake and she knew it. Given that kind of pressure she did quite well, particularly given of the nature of the group she was speaking to. She was facing child residents of a hospice and their parents, knowing that those children would never mature, that those parents faced a future without their child; that this “precious time” as Kate referred to it, was short. What a formidable group to address as her first audience.

She stayed focused

Kate was very controlled. Partly because it’s her job to appear steadfast and strong. But I’ll bet that there was more than royal protocol running through her head as she prepared for and finally faced that audience. It’s an open secret that she and William hope to have their own child in the near future but, regardless of what private thoughts may have been on her mind, she stayed focused on the need to keep the audience’s attention on her royal visit rather than her unseen royal emotions.

She didn’t flinch

She could have so easily drifted into maudlin sentimentality or revealed her emotions, but she didn’t. It’s not easy for a woman who obviously loves kids to speak to terminally ill children and their parents as though they are any other group of parents and children. But she did it. Yes, she looked a little uncomfortable but she didn’t flinch.

Focus on her audience

Of course Kate has had plenty of public speaking training and we can expect that her presentation was heavily rehearsed. And I suspect that her presentation trainer helped her to contain her emotions. Her presentation trainer probably told her to focus on her audience, not on herself; and that what they felt would be more important than how she felt as she spoke.

Emotions can be difficult

We all have a duty to our audiences. After all, they are – or should be – the reason we’re up there in the first place. Emotions can be difficult to control. But sometimes they have to be squarely placed in the back seat while we navigate through what our audience needs to hear.

Stay focused

While it’s important in most instances to let our passion speak for us, as speakers, we have to recognize when it’s more important to stay focused on the message and to stick to it, regardless of how it makes us feel. You can see how Kate handled her challenge here.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.