10 Presentation Tips from The King's Speech

The King's Speech, the inspiring 2010 Oscar Best Film contains many lessons on public speaking.

Based on the true story of the Duke of Windsor struggling to overcome a speech impediment it is full of public speaking tips for anyone who aspires to be a better speaker or a great leader.

The movie plot revolves around the challenges in public speaking as actor Colin Firth assumes the throne as King George VI. There are many lessons on overcoming a fear of public speaking.

The script highlights the challenge of how to give a great speech during a time of crisis.

It is a great movie, but what are the lessons for public speaking? Here are 10 presentation tips from the movie.

1. Believe in Yourself
Poor self-image, an internalized negative belief system, and an overall perception of not achieving potential greatness can sabotage a speech.

"Lionel Logue: Do you know any jokes?
King George VI: ...Timing isn't my strong suit."

2. Find Your Voice
In a crisis or during a challenge or major change, leaders need to be visible and strong.

Here's a pivotal scene from the movie when they are rehearsing for the coronation and the soon to be crowned King finds his voice.

"King George VI: Sees Logue is sitting on the coronation throne: What are you doing? Get up! You can't sit there! GET UP!
Lionel Logue: Why not? It's a chair.
King George VI: No, that. It is not a chair. T-that... that is Saint Edward's chair.
Lionel Logue: People have carved their names on it.
King George VI: - Simultaneously - That... chair... is the seat on which every king and queen has... That is the Stone of Scone you ah-are trivializing everything. You trivialize...
Lionel Logue: - Simultaneously - It's held in place by a large rock. I don't care about how many royal xxx have sat in this chair.
King George VI: Listen to me. Listen to me!
Lionel Logue: Listen to you? By what right?
King George VI: By divine right if you must, I am your king.
Lionel Logue: No you're not, you told me so yourself. You didn't want it. Why should I waste my time listening?
King George VI: Because I have a right to be heard. I have a voice!
Lionel Logue: - pauses - Yes, you do. - Longer pause -
Lionel Logue: You have such perseverance Bertie, you're the bravest man I know."

3. Have a Purpose
Every speech needs to have an objective, a goal and a purpose.

For the King, times were changing:

"King George V: In the past all a King had to do was look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse. Now we must invade people's homes and ingratiate ourselves with them. This family is reduced to those lowest, basest of all creatures, we've become actors!"

4. Admit You Need Help
The first step to becoming a better speaker is by learning and looking at feedback as a gift.

"Lionel Logue: What was your earliest memory?
King George VI: I'm not... -here to discuss... -personal matters.
Lionel Logue: Why are you here then?
King George VI: Because I bloody well stammer!"

5. Physical Fitness

Being at top physical condition is critical for delivering a great speech.

Avoid anything that will impact of your physical performance.

"Lionel Logue: - as George "Bertie" is lighting up a cigarette - Please don't do that.
King George VI: I'm sorry?
Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
King George VI: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel Logue: They're idiots.
King George VI: They've all been knighted.
Lionel Logue: Makes it official then."

6. Warm up Your Voice and Muscles Involved in Delivery
A warm up is essential.

"Lionel Logue: - Bertie is lying on the floor, and Elizabeth is sitting on his chest - Take a good deep breath... - Bertie inhales -
Lionel Logue: And up goes Her Royal Highness... Now exhale slowly... - Bertie exhales -
Lionel Logue: And down goes Her Royal Highness...
Queen Elizabeth: This is actually quite good fun, Bertie."

7. Record Your Speech
Always record your speech for review and analysis.

There is a great scene in the movie when Bertie listens back to his recorded speech that is a tipping point in his relationship with Logue.

8. Practice
It takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill.

The more pressure, the more the need to practice.

"- watching a clip of Hitler speaking - Lilibet: What's he saying?
King George VI: I don't know but... he seems to be saying it rather well."

9. Microphone Technique
There are some great scenes in the movie of broadcasters working on the positioning of the microphone.

These small changes make a big difference to the speech quality.

10. Seek Outside Help
A speech coach, course or mentor can significantly improve performance.

"Lionel Logue: You still stammered on the 'W'.
King George VI: Well I had to throw in a few so they knew it was me."

Please consider:

Tuesday May 17th 2011, Subiaco Arts Centre, Perth, Australia
Powerful and Persuasive Speechwriting. Book here.

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