Public Speaking Expert
Richard Quest from CNN is known for his hard hitting questions as one of the new channels foremost international business correspondents and the presenter of Quest means Business, however he has spoken out about his fear of speaking in public to CNN.
He said to CNN: “I hate public speaking. Or to be more precise, I don’t like speaking to an audience sitting in front of me that I can see in real life. I don’t mind once I am going, but waiting in the wings to go on is dreadful.
“For someone who has spent the best part of three decades broadcasting in some shape or form, you might have thought this would be something of a handicap. My career involves speaking to large numbers of people, but here is the point: On television and radio, I can’t see you”.
For Richard Quest the problem he has with public speaking is all about being able to see his audience and his fear of seeing people squirm or grimace as he addresses them or even worse if they yawn!
To try and get over his fear he attended a Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) course on public speaking course for business leaders despite being skeptical about the possible results of such a course.
He said: “What I was not prepared for was the wholesale rethinking of how I go about my breathing, thinking, and ultimately delivery.
“It can be described in one phrase: “Diaphragmatic breathing!” Most broadcasters speak and breathe from the throat. We have a microphone to help us. So we never learn the art of the actor or opera singer which is to: Project to the Audience in the Upper Balcony.”
When he got further into the course he was met with more exercises to put his voice through its paces but he was actually unsure about how effectivew they would be in conquering his fear.
“I started off with a whole load of exercises, the purpose of which seemed obscure. Wiggling hips, shrugging the shoulders, stretching the neck, running my tongue around my teeth and then saying the months of the year with a cork in my mouth. Apparently it’s all designed to open up the throat and allow the sound to flow from the vocal chords.
“Then the breathing. From deep down below, right to the bottom of the belly, to allow the air to carry the sound out of my mouth. It seemed to work. According to those who listened, my voice sounded richer and more rounded, less raspy and desperate. I didn’t gasp for air. I was delighted.”
But as with any new skills Richard was warned to put his new skills into practice a little more and to not try to run before he could walk or he was in danger of once again falling back into a state of fear of public speaking.
Richard Quest concluded: “I will never really like standing in front of a large audience, hoping they will like me (a therapist would have a field day with that comment) but at least I am no longer nervous to the point of going to the bathroom multiple times just to get away.”