IF you are a seemingly extroverted person in your day to day life, an assumption may be made that pop you on a stage and stick an audience in front of you and you become a witty raconteur to rival Graham Norton or a storytelling genius like Steve Jobs.

Conversely, those that appear introverted can be assumed to quiver and quake at the prospect of commanding a room from a lectern.

Well, I am here to debunk both assumptions, knowing people who are both introvert and extrovert and behave quite differently to what you might assume in front of a crowd.

I have had cause to do a bit of public speaking recently, in front of very different audiences; from a group of professionals at an event at a university, to small groups of children at the launch of my children’s book ‘What’s a girl to do?’, through to reading the book to a junior school assembly.

In each case, the worries were different.

For the university talk, it was 'will the assembled group be interested in the topic'? For the book launch it was 'will the children like it?' And for the assembly it was 'this is a huge hall and lots of children of different ages and could I read in such a way that would engage them all?'

Thankfully, all went well at each event and feedback has been positive.


Chalk all up to experience and crack on.

No one, whether they be a CEO of a multi-national, a stand-up comedian, a politician - or indeed anyone in a role for which public speaking is integral - is born with an inherent ability to do it extremely well.

Not in my opinion.

However, doubtless the ability to stand before a group and engage and interest them, communicate, persuade, entertain, all are very valuable and sometimes integral to achieving a particular goal and I do believe we can learn, improve and master the art.

From the fight for Civil Rights in America, to the campaign for women’s suffrage, to any number of social change movements or indeed in times of war or other national strife, someone climbing upon the proverbial soap box making a coherent point, have done powerful good to their cause.

I learnt valuable lessons at school.

Mr. Dicks told me not to be afraid to be still, to hold a moment and be quiet.

Mr. Sim taught me that nerves were good, they showed you cared and it was about acknowledging them and managing them.

Rehearsal helps; so too does listening, being authentic and crucially, I believe, speaking with integrity.

The Toastmasters International World Championships of Speaking has been held annually since 1938, with the exceptions of 1944 and 1945.

Their mission is to empower people to become more effective leaders and communicators.

What a laudable aim.

Whether in our private or public life, to be able to meaningfully communicate with others, is surely key to the very fabric of being human.