Laura Cartledge meets Philippa Hammond
who takes the drama out of public speaking
Brighton-based public speaking expert Philippa Hammond comes from a theatrical family.
‘I grew up around play readings and performances so it was all very normal for me,’ she explains. ‘And the ancient techniques actors use for dealing with stage fright are great for public speaking.’
Later Philippa branched into training while being an actress at the same time before combining her skills and starting her own business, aptly named Speaking Well In Public.
‘My work goes right across the board from one-to-ones to development programmes,’ she adds. ‘I love it, especially on a one day course. People are so nervous when they get there and by the end of the day they are asking to do another one as they enjoy it so much.’
Speaking well is a valuable skill in all walks of life, whether you are in business, applying to university, have a job interview or need to make a speech at a special occasion.
‘It is such a bonus, it gives you sense of credibility,’ she says. ‘So much is about how you engage with people. They will be working out do I like this person, do I trust them and, ultimately, do I believe them? I read in Forbes magazine the top six qualities looked for in an employee. Public speaking, body language and being able to command a room were in the top three.’
So what prevents people from being confident speakers, and can anyone do it?
‘I believe that if you can speak and hold a conversation, you can do it,’ Philippa replies. ‘We have our own barriers which we build in our minds. I have worked with people from fire and rescue who can run into a burning building but if they are faced with a presentation they are frightened. It is not about courage but about comfort zones.’
The key to a good speaker is being able to grab attention and keep it. This means being memorable and working out what the audience needs.
Philippa believes there are three key areas people need to address.
‘The first is being prepared’, she says. ‘It sounds obvious, but rehearsing is vital. When you are driving, in the bath or on the train – in fact it’s a great way to get a double seat to yourself. The second is positive thinking. People sabotage themselves, you need to visualise yourself succeeding,’ she explains. ‘Finally, relax, breathe from your diaphragm. If you don’t, you won’t have the power you need.’
All of this works to counteract the physical impact nerves can have. As adrenaline pumps your heart beats faster, you begin to overheat and can’t think or speak. Acknowledging this is another key aspect.
‘The thing is, we are not brought up to be loud,’ Philippa says. ‘We are turned down at school as the teacher is speaking.
It is great for confidence and I would love it to be taught in schools.’
To find out more about Philippa and her work, or to discuss your training needs