straitjacketI have been enjoying watching the first two episodes of “The Speaker”, the BBC’s new public speaking competition for teenagers. Already there have been some outstanding performances and it’s been interesting to see who and why the judges have chosen to go through to the top 20.

I have also been feeling for the people who dried up in mid speech. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?

Of course there isn’t a simple answer. In my book practice practice and more practice is critical when you have to deliver a strong message in a short time. Once you have developed a draft of the content, rehearse it and amend it a number of times until the language flows easily and “feels right”. If there are any stumbling blocks that you continually trip over then change them! Try alternative phrases until you get it right.

Finally, let go of the script and trust your ability in the moment. If you try to be word perfect and you make a mistake the whole flow is lost and self doubt comes crashing in on you. This was all to evident for some contestants in “The Speaker”.

Yes you need a structure and a logical flow but if you hold on too closely it can become a straitjacket.

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