Lessons on Public Speaking From The King’s Speech

Speech lessons fit for a king.

Prince Albert, known to his family as Bertie, reluctantly assumed the throne of England in 1936 and became King George VI. Cursed from boyhood with a terrible stammer, he struggled painfully in public until his wife convinced him to seek the help of Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist. Bertie conquered his stammer, found his voice, and became one of England’s most beloved kings. For anyone who’s ever faced fears before making a presentation or speaking in public, the king’s story contains useful tips on how we can all learn to communicate better.

Have faith in your voice.

As a child, Bertie was teased and ignored by the powerful men in his family. His stammer grew worse, until he believed he could never be cured. Just as many novice presenters struggle to get their words out, the king had to overcome a lack of faith in himself. The secret here is to persist.

Admit you need help.

The king checked his ego; listened to his wife, Elizabeth; and put his trust in Logue. Lesson: We are all flawed. No one becomes a great presenter alone. Find your own Lionel and Elizabeth.

Put the hours in.

It wasn’t until Bertie threw himself into the exercises from Logue that he was able to progress. There’s no substitute for preparation.

Leverage experience.

Nothing improves public speaking like doing it, as King George VI found out. When you can’t practice, study other people’s presentations and learn from their experience.

Be a true version of yourself.

Bertie later spoke to more than 50 countries on live radio. He wasn’t perfect, but he was loved by his people — his stammer humanized him and made him a hero.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest