Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Public Speaking

I am not a big fan of public speaking.
I can do it at a push, and I thank my father's genes for the ability to do so...for he would have made a speech in the queue at Tescos if people would have let him. 
I am thinking about this subject today as I have been asked to give two "talks" to the local Women's Institute this Autumn...I think that they want a sort of precis of all the best bits from Going Gently , ....humorous and touching animal stories aka James Herriot...that sounds safe enough..... me thinks


Years ago, I once was asked to present a paper to several hundred delegates at a conference in The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore.

The subject matter was emotive to say the least, as it was a personal account of how the ward staff and I , as ward manager, coped with a particularly "challenging", suicidal and acutely mentally ill patient in the inappropriate setting of a general spinal injury ward.

My account, in my mind was pitched just right. It was honest, reflective and dare I say interesting, and as I had practised the whole presentation a hundred times, the whole thing tripped off the tongue as easily as if I was a radio 4 news presenter!

Unfortunately I was wearing a body mike ( a new experience for me) and after I had finished my emotive account with a fairly dramatic flourish, the audience broke into an impressive and enthusiastic round of applause..........
I gestured towards them all with a dignified and professional nod,  and after I walked slowly ( and dramatically) to my seat to sit down. I caught the eye of Sharman Bibby who was an Occupational Therapist that I knew well.. She smiled and mouthed "phew" at me and I replied with a somewhat relieved "FUCK---------ING  hell" ....
Yes... you've guessed it.... The body mike was still on!

So, this morning, I must reassure Pat (who is the secretary of the local WI)......there will be no swearing!
I promise

36 comments:

  1. Good luck mate!

    I was an instructor in the army, I had to lecture to various police forces (once with no notice whatsoever, I had merely turned up at Essex Police HQ to have a chat with Special Branch and was instead shoved into a full auditorium and had to ad lib the lot), I was asked to do an after dinner speech for the Young Farmers but the scariest was the women's institute. My language is fairly colorful so it was bloody hard not to let the odd expletive slip out!

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  2. By the way, I think you are more Gerald Durrel, My Family and Other Animals...

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  3. They'll love your talk. Good luck.

    Years ago my son was on a kids' tv programme. Mums were required to sit in the green room. The kids were mic'd and sitting next to me while the presenter was recording 'the winners will get a poster and a trophey'. I joked 'we were told it was two weeks in Barbados'. The studio errupted into laughter with a 'who said that?'. So beware the hidden mic too!

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  4. Ever heard of "Spearmint Rhino"? Perhaps the Women's Insitute would prefer you to do a sexy dance for the laydeez. You could be "Peppermint Rhino"! The music from George Michael. The outfit - sequined. Just a thought.

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  5. Oops. (Re the swearing)
    I am sure that your next speeches will be well received.

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  6. At least you hadn't wandered off to the loo while wearing your mic. No recommended!

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  7. An absolute gem...!

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  8. Good luck. I hope you enjoy it!
    John, one of the best pieces of advice I got about public speaking was that all the audience wants is your information - and you are there to give it to them. I get so nervous in front of a crowd and never take this advice myself ... but it helps to know that the audience is not examining your very soul/dark matter/uncleaned skin pores, but simply wanting to hear what you have to say.

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  9. you are such a celebrity !!

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  10. Love the fact that your mike was still on, sounds like something I would do.
    All the best with your talk, I'd love to listen to you.

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  11. Some of my life's most panicky moments have followed the words 'would you be willing to give a small talk to our members about.....'. Very rarely have I said 'yes'. You're a brave fellow.

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  12. Take along the hysterical runners. If anything goes awry you can easily create a distraction..

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  13. You'll be fine...I hope!
    Jane x

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  14. rusty
    I WILL be taking rooster cogburn!

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  15. Got an idea John! Why not have your 'talk' recorded? That way we can watch as well! Wasn't THAT a great idea? I know you like it, I do!

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  16. Ah, so you had a George V moment with your microphone.

    I've never used one....probably luckily.....my audiences got the benefit of the 'oh XXXX' as I tripped on my way to the lectern or dropped my notes without amplification but a disturbing number always heard it.

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  17. I agree with Jim--it'd be great to hear your talk.

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  18. You'll be grrrrreat! Just remember to turn the mike OFF after you've delivered the goods.

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  19. Did you get a second applause?

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  20. Oh, I can't wait to read about your next public displays. Hopefully here if not in all the tabloids!

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  21. I used to do quite a lot of public speaking in my job John - I never found it hard but folk often said that if you did find it hard the best thing was to imagine all your listeners were sitting on the lav!

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  22. doc..... all I got was a few titters

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  23. Try listening to a Johnny Morris tape, get a few tips on the voices and stuff! in my limited experience the womens institute love nothing better than a bit of Bernard Manning and half a bottle of dry sherry.
    You will be fine.

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  24. I thought of taking a few tins of lager and nibbles!

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  25. "Och, She was just a bigoted woman" (Gordon Brown - ish...) SEE! We knew you had a TV series in you!

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  26. Tell them the story of the rancid old slag at the petrol station, I always enjoyed that one!

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  27. not one of my better encounters!!!!

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  28. Re the paper at RNOH, I admire you for talking so confidently on such a delicate subject. It sounds like the talks to the WI will be a doddle in comparison.

    Those "still recording" stories are always a hoot. I love the ones where some presenter gives their real opinion of a guest. Usually pretty unprintable.

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  29. Ha ! Why was it not a surprise to learn the mic had still been on? John, you are an original by nature.

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  30. Haha! So many people have been got by the live mike. ;o)

    Good luck, John! Just imagine you're writing a post and you'll be fantastic. ♥

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  31. I like Jim's idea as well. We'd all love to hear it and you can always add a bit of swearing after. ;-)

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  32. Good luck!!! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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  33. John, you always leave me with a sunny dispostion. We appreciate you sharing your own challenges for our delight! --- If I had been in the crowd, I would have said, "BRAVO!"

    Lana

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  34. Swearing is just fine, because most people can totally sympathize. It's more difficult to explain away being congratulated by your teacher after a nerve wracking speech, and going to say thank you..

    ... and vomiting on him instead. O.o

    Just ... go with the swearing.

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  35. I'm sure your exclaimation of relief put a few smiles on a few faces ! ( I would have giggled )

    As a child, I was interviewed for a radio programme about punishment in schools. I said I'd like to mention my previous school where the head had his favourites ( me ) and bullied others ( my brother ) They told me, " Ok but Don't mention the schools name" ... so what did I do ? oops !!!

    I'm joining the WI and I'd LOVE to hear your talk !

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  36. Fame and fortune (maybe). You had it coming.

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