In the last few days our screens have been filled with clips of Margaret Thatcher’s key speeches. How interesting, as I analyse her performance with my trainer’s hat on, to see her, time and again, commit one of the cardinal sins of public speaking – she looks down at the climax of a key point instead of maintaining eye contact with the audience. This famous ‘the lady’s not for turning’ clip illustrates the point.
She’s looking down to be ready for the next point, rather than delivering the climax, driving it home with confident eye contact, letting the impact sink in and then moving on to the next idea. I call this ‘owning the silence’.
Add to this an occasional nervous clearing of the throat and a frequent licking of the lips (along with her own admission of extreme nervousness before a big speaking engagement) and we have an insight into Mrs T, the iron lady and the anxious performer.