Say it to me, as a friend

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Few days ago, I saw Tom Hooper’s much acclaimed “The Kings’ speech”, the astonishing true story of King George VI who once feared being called George the Stammer wouldn’t he have found his “voice” thanks to the unconventional methods of an Australian “speech therapist” who gradually turned into a friend, Lionel Hogue.  This movie is a must-see not only because of Colin Firth’s (George VI) and Geoffrey Rush’s (Lionel Logue) outstanding interpretations and the uniqueness of their characters’ relationship, but also because it can only touch us in the heart of our communication and leadership aspirations. King George VI’s handicap was of such nature that it indeed required an adapted therapy for curing, but many scenes reminded me of the regular training provided by Toastmasters and the efforts we produce in order to ameliorate the quality of our lives as communication beings.

1) to improve your public speaking skills, listen to yourself

For improving our ability to speak, we have to listen first and listen to the only voice we would generally prefer not to listen to: our own. At times, it is a cruel exercise as it might reveal a person in which we do not recognize ourselves. Acknowledging own strengths and weaknesses is however a first and indispensable step in bettering our way of delivering speeches. “The King’s speech” shows it in the most dramatic way when Lionel Logue suggests the at the time Duke of York to tape his voice and listen to it.

I don’t want to reveal more about the result and subsequent challenges inherent to this exercise because the story is so appealing that you really should see the movie to discover what happened, but it stroke me that taping own voice was an incredibly innovative technology at the time, and that the wide availability and variety of affordable technologies for taping and videotaping  at our disposal nowadays have not equally prompted their use for the purpose of perfecting our persuasiveness and expressiveness (such technologies are supported by e.g. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ or http://www.youtube.com)… Wouldn’t it be wiser to give it a try at least – and I address here to my fellow Toastmasters particularly?

2) to improve your public speaking skills, get feedback from your audiences

Listening is also the main task of any audience. George VI’s attempts to tame his tottering in such unusual situations as addressing a full Wembley Stadium during his first oration – broadcasted by radio to the entire British Empire involving thus an audience of several millions auditors – can only fill us with a sense of relief when it comes to our Toastmasters first public speech called the “icebreaker”… Unlike George VI, we are fortunate to have an emphatic and interactive audience at Toastmasters: people who share the same objectives (improving their communication and leadership skills) and who will give us feedback on every aspect of our performance in a structured and easy way (body language, eye contact, voice, tone, rhythm, grammar, structure, etc…).

Geoffrey Rush’s line as Lionel Logue “Say it to me, as friend” encompasses everything about the unique environment Toastmasters creates for us to meliorate this fantastic ability to tell things and have people listen to us!

3) to improve your public speaking skills, relentlessly train

There is no secret: to become a great public speaker, we have to train, and train again because by training we gain confidence from practicing rather than from absorbing all possible self help books on the topic. The result of such training is often perceivable in our renewed ability to catch an audience’s attention with the real us – rather than with a book formatted us. The movie “The King’s Speech” shows it beautifully as the King rehearses his speeches with the support of those who believe in him and he gradually grows into the person he was meant to be: serving his nation as a hero king, being an entertaining father and husband, forcing the admiration of all.

To conclude, I would say this:

1) GO and see the movie “The King’s speech” and if you recognize some areas in your public speaking you would like to improve, then…

2) JOIN a Toastmasters meeting to find a Toastmasters group in your town, use the locator function on www.toastmasters.org (Meetings in Finland are also taken on this blog and on www.toastmasters.fi) . Attending as a guest is free of charge and you will then be in a position to decide if Toastmasters can help you improving in the areas you are planning to improve and especially gain in terms of eloquence.

3) TAPE your training and post it on this blog for feedback: if you are preparing for a speech, tape yourself in the format you feel most comfortable with and ask for feedback on this blog. We will make sure some experienced Toastmasters will give you feedback on how to improve it… how does that sound?

4) Be the first to fully review this text and win a Finnkino movie ticket (valid for one person, one session, in Finnkino cinema’s in Finland until May 2011): as my text proves, I am not a native English speaker but I am always very pleased to receive suggestions for correction. If you are the first to suggest a full set of corrections to the above text (vocabulary,  grammar) in a comment to this post, you will get a ticket to go to the movies (and who knows maybe see “the King’s speech”?)…

Article by Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti

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5 thoughts on “Say it to me, as a friend

  1. Don’t be shy! Leave a comment – and if you feel like it, leave a video with a prepared speech for feedback… more than 50 people have read this text over the last two days…! Why not to do something more concrete?

  2. Simon D

    Hi Ruxandra,
    Very interesting piece (as shown by how many people have had a look so far :)). I will be the first to provide you with a bit of an ´audit´of the text so to speak as you requested. Perhaps for future comments I can use video, but for now I am simply going to paste the text with corrections and some comments from my perspective. I did underline all the changes so it was easy to see but I don´t think it transfers to this posting so you will just need to compare texts.
    Summary feedback: I would first like to say I enjoy the energy in your style of writing and use of a good variety of vocabulary and descriptive sentences. For an improvement point I would suggest looking at editing the length of your sentences so they are not too long – I have the very same tendancy, trying to include several important ideas into one sentence…to help the reader absorb your message, 2-3 smaller sentences is more powerful and clear. Let me know if you want any more feedback other than what I provide here…and with that, here is the edited text 🙂

    A (added A here) few days ago (removed comma here) I saw Tom Hooper’s much acclaimed (removed quotation marks, not needed because it is a title) film The King´s (changed placement of apostrophe since it is a single not plural King) Speech, an astonishing true story of King George VI´s journey from the fear of being called ´George the Stammer` to finding his ´speaking voice´ thanks to the unconventional methods of an Australian speech therapist and eventual friend, Lionel Hogue (the sentence is a bit long, would consider putting it into 2 parts here). This movie is a must-see not only because of Colin Firth’s (George VI) and Geoffrey Rush’s (Lionel Hogue) outstanding interpretations plus uniqueness of their characters’ relationship, but also because it connects with (the change here is my personal opinion of how I would write it, your way was good too) our deepest communication and leadership aspirations (again the sentence is quite long, consider shortening or splitting in 2). King George VI’s handicap was of such a nature that it required an adapted therapy for curing. (split long sentence into parts here) Many scenes in the film however reminded me of the regular training provided by Toastmasters and the efforts we produce in order to ameliorate the quality of our lives as communication beings. Some of these efforts and training ideas include (added this sentence to provide transition for reader):

    1) To improve your public speaking skills, listen to yourself

    To improve our ability to speak we have to learn how to listen first, especially to the voice we would generally prefer not to listen to: our own. At times it can be a cruel exercise as it might reveal a part of ourselves that we do not recognize. Acknowledging our own strengths and weaknesses is the first and indispensable step in bettering our way of delivering speeches. The King’s Speech shows this concept in the most dramatic way when Lionel Hogue makes the suggestion to tape one´s own voice and listen to it.
    I don’t want to reveal more about potential results and subsequent challenges inherent to this exercise because the story in the film is so appealing that you really should see the movie to discover what happened.(split long sentence into parts here) It struck me that taping one´s own voice was an incredibly innovative technology at the time. (split long sentence into parts here) The wide availability and variety of affordable technologies for taping and videotaping at our disposal nowadays do not seem to have prompted an equal proliferation in their use for the purpose of perfecting our persuasiveness and expressiveness. I propose that it be wise to give it a try – my fellow Toastmasters in particular.
    2) To improve your public speaking skills, get feedback from your audiences
    Listening is also the main task of any audience. George VI’s attempts to tame his tottering included unusual situations such as addressing a full Wembley Stadium during his first oration.( split long sentence into parts here) It was broadcasted by radio to the entire British Empire, an audience of several millions ´auditors´, and can only fill us with a sense of relief when it comes to our Toastmasters first public speech called the ´icebreaker´, a new toastmaster´s first speech in front of supportive and encouraging fellow club members. Unlike George VI, we are fortunate to have an emphatic and interactive audience at Toastmasters: people who share the same objectives ( i.e. improving their communication and leadership skills) and who will give us feedback on every aspect of our performance in a structured and easy way e.g. body language, eye contact, voice, tone, rhythm, grammar, structure, etc…
    Geoffrey Rush’s line as Lionel Hogue in the film: “Say it to me, as a friend” encompasses everything about the unique environment Toastmasters creates for us to meliorate the fantastic ability to speak well and to have people listen to us!
    3) To improve your public speaking skills, relentlessly train
    There is no secret: to become a great public speaker we have to train, and train again repeatedly. (split long sentence into parts here) By training we gain confidence from practice rather than from absorbing all possible self help books on the topic. The result of such training is often perceivable in our renewed ability to catch an audience’s attention with the real us, rather than with a book regurgitated by us. The movie, The King’s Speech, shows the art of training beautifully when the King rehearses his speeches with the support of those who believe in him. (split long sentence into parts here) Gradually he grows into the person he was meant to be; serving his nation as a hero king, being an entertaining father and husband, and forcing the admiration of all.

  3. Dear Simon, thanks for reviewing my text – in exclusivity! You are thus the winner of a Finnkino movie ticket – a true incentive for such an amount of work it seems 🙂

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