Did you know, you may very well have something in common with King George VI of England? That is, if you are terrified of speaking due to a personal challenge…
In the 2011 movie, The King’s Speech, Colin Firth plays George VI, who, through no choice of his own, became the monarch of the United Kingdom when his brother abdicated the throne. It was 1939, and Great Britain had just declared war on Germany. The film centers on the relationship between the new king, a born stutterer, and his speech coach, played by Geoffrey Rush.
Part of King George’s responsibility was to speak to his subjects live through a new device called the radio. Terrified at the need to connect with his subjects, he would have preferred to live in the shadows. However, in wartime England, silence was not an option. The King of the world’s oldest monarchy needed to be seen—and more importantly, heard. Fearing the embarrassment and shame of his debilitating stutter, King George felt defeated from the onset. He was painfully aware that if he didn’t confront his fears, he would be crushed under the weight of his countrymen’s expectations.
The King George in All of Us
I see a lot of King George in many of my clients. While most don’t have the same physical challenges to overcome as George VI did, they often employ a handful of missteps, in terms of voice and body language that weaken their stage presence. When asked to present something forcefully and compellingly, they feel inadequate and not up to task. They can’t seem to shake off the nervous tension that erodes their confidence and inhibits their success.
However, like the finale of the movie, you can be successful and overcome what may seem like an impossible task. There are several strategies to employ in public speaking, each addressing what may be a personal weakness of yours. For George VI, the principles of speaking language with a musical approach – an emphasis on phrasing and pitch – helped him overcome his stutter to deliver a message when it was needed the most.
Take the time to think about your public speaking skills – what are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Are you terrified of speaking? If so, what is it that scares you? Take inventory and pledge to yourself to improve. The country of England may not depend on it, but the success of your career just might. Learn more about how to become the speaker you need and want to be by visiting www.chuckgarcia.com