Saturday, 31 December 2011

You are on now

I want to tackle the sometimes scary concept of public speaking.

In common with many people I spent  a lot of my school years hoping the bell would ring before I would have to read out loud in class but I decided to challenge myself and joined a drama group. I also took the opportunity to take spoken English exams. Both are probably still the stuff of my nightmares but have provided lots to look back on. They also made me much more confident and were never regretted.

reflexology socks
The spoken English exam is etched in my memory because part of it involved being given a topic to speak about for 5 minutes with a moment's notice. I got "socks"...well I survived somehow and remember there were not the fancy socks on the market in the late 1960's. It would have been good if they made these reflexology socks for instance. Mind you I did manage to get in the idea of sock suspenders I think which had long fascinated me - my grandfather wore them - and must have given the assessor a wry smile.
sock suspenders
Drama wise the main speaking role I had was in an old fashioned play by Dodie Smith "Dear Octopus" where I had to have a row with another actor/6th former whilst laying a table for a dinner. I had to threaten her with a knife and can still recall the slight drawing in of breath in the audience.

On leaving school and in the government on a management training course there was a day on public speaking and I was absolutely chuffed to bits to see I was marked down as a "natural speaker" - this after years of being told I spoke too fast and must slow down. Then another student came over and asked me if he had noted like he had her that I had a "posh voice". He hadn't but only last month I was telling this story to a friend who teaches people how to speak in public. When I told her what my fellow course member had said she looked at me astounded and pronounced a resonating  "DID she?" So I think either my colleague was well off the mark or my speech has deteriorated over the years!

Panel discussion 
I have had to speak a number of times in public over the years including five years of teaching adults and one or two work related events that have been highly stressful to orchestrate involving sniffer dogs and celebrities but quite fun, in hindsight at least. This panel at the Oxford Literary Festival some years ago was taken by a blogger who was in the audience so there is even evidence of me public speaking in the ether!

1 comment:

  1. My daughter took Spoken English exams at school. Unfortunately, on the day of her first exam she had had a brace fitted to her teeth and couldn't speak without lisping and spitting! She still did well though. From the time she started talking, she has had a "posh" voice and I'm not sure where it came from - she has two Scottish parents and was brought up in Birmingham then Barry, neither place noted for its clarity of speech!