He was a man that was never destined to be a leader, and King George VI, the current Queen’s father, struggled with speaking from being a young boy. This was made worse by the pressure he experienced and the fear that he felt regarding speaking in public. In a story made famous around the world by the Oscar-winning hit ‘The King’s Speech’ starring Colin Firth, George worked with Lionel Logue, an Australian Speech therapist, to overcome his fear and take on the role of king after the abdication.
Growing up in the shadow of his brother, the heir, King George VI’s story offers valuable lessons and insights into the skills associated with public speaking and how these can be learned and developed to promote executive presence.
Voice is a key component of executive presence, along with confidence, a sense of purpose, body language and more. It could even be suggested that Lionel Lague could be considered one of the first ever practising executive coaches. Executive presence is a quality that makes certain people stand out from all the rest.
It comes from having confidence in what you are saying and doing, and this clarity of thought encourages others to put their faith in that individual. Improving your executive presence will enable you to highlight your strengths, exude confidence and could be a key stepping stone in your personal and professional development.
It is important to note, that although we talk about executive presence, this does not just refer to CEOs and seniors in the company, but instead it can exist on all levels of the company. More and more employers are prioritising public speaking skills, and in some professions and industries, including the role of the monarch, this ability is a prerequisite for success.
The public speaking process is considered to be made up of seven essential elements, including the source (or speaker); the verbal and non-verbal message; the receiver; the channel; feedback; noise and situation. However, what makes a successful public speaker is almost subjective, it is the ability to engage, entertain, and educate, or perhaps just the skill of being able to make an individual connection with every single person in a room full of people.
One of the central components to King George VI’s speech impediment was linked to the fear of public speaking, and even those who do it every day, still get scared at the thought of addressing a group. Developing executive presence includes learning to control your delivery and breath, and practice will help to reduce public speaking related anxiety.
Take advice from the king’s own adviser, Lionel, and recognise that success in public speaking is a direct result of breath control, practice and warm up. Learning to breathe properly will ensure that you are able to remain calm and in control of the situation. Practising your speech will help it to become second nature and warming up your vocal cords will help your message to ring out loud and clear.
Being physically prepared for anything will enable you to be mentally prepared, and one of the reasons why George’s final speech was so powerful and moving was due to its authenticity. Build trust and credibility with your audience, as an authentic public speaker who displays a passion for their subject and compassion for others, will engage and enthuse the listener.
The box office movie, ‘The King’s Speech’ ends with Colin Firth’s rendition of the wartime address, highlighting that public speaking, and even executive presence, could be taught. George was not a natural leader, and yet, his story is hailed as a success.
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Global Conference & TEDx Speaker on Executive Presence – Inspiring Trust & Compassion To Achieve ROI – Delivery Experience 25+ Years | Best-Selling Author®