In this series of Well Prepared Training articles we pay homage to the people we admire when it comes to the way they speak in public.
That last sentence probably doesn’t even do them justice. Our choices for these articles have truly found the purpose of their voices and speak so that everyone is listening to them. They inspire. They engage. They create passion. They can evoke tears. They tell compelling, human stories that make you feel something with every word. These are the inspirational speakers that blow our minds.
For this article, we have selected someone who speaks publicly with absolute ease. Joanne Rowling OBE, much better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British author, film producer, television producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist. Most famous for bringing the world her literary masterpieces with the stories of a certain young wizard, Harry James Potter.
We thought long and hard before selecting the speech that stood out for us, she has many under her belt, including reading a passage from Peter Pan at the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony in London. We wanted a speech that stuck with us and we chose her graduation speech to students at Harvard University in 2011.
The overarching message we took from this, and would encourage you to do the same, is the perfectly played use of humour throughout. Her audience engages with her within seconds as she plays on the fears of public speaking and relaxes the audience (and herself) with the power of laughter. A clever trick many of us can use to ease into a public speech. The power of laughter and relaxing is incredible. She is, without doubt, a master at this. Her self-deprecating humour is powerful and empowering (along with her wicked twitter responses if you look at those).
There are many highlights to this public speech, but we picked some prime moments for you. We strongly advise you to watch as she masterfully tackles topics that many wouldn’t dare to even write down. Included in this speech are personal stories, anecdotes, government issues, African torture, personal failure, divorce and poverty.
Each topic is skilfully delivered using the power of her voice, knowing that her audience are listening to her with interest and compassion. She is a multi-billionaire, talking of poverty could be taken the wrong way, but the way it is delivered, and the story passed along instead warms you to her and the story even more.
She talks passionately about what imagination means to her, and the distinct lack of it in certain arenas. Her stature and body language are strong. She explains that for her, imagination is the powerful tool that allows us to empathise with others without ever actually being in their shoes. An interesting take from someone whose imagination has inspired millions of children (and adults) around the world through her writing.
We love her humour, both outright, and sarcastic and especially the little eye movements that show us how comfortable she is sharing her words and inspiring people to laugh with her. She genuinely seems to be there because she wants to congratulate the students and share her insights with them.
Even after going to more solemn moments during the talk, she ends with her humour when she discusses the reason, she will never be able to run for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
You can watch J.K. Rowling speaking by clicking this link.
Now we can’t guarantee to make you speak like J.K. Rowling, but we can help you become an awesome public speaker through our own SPEAK programme so if we can support you get in touch.