Public Speaking or Giving Presentations – 3 Things to Learn from Ant and Dec

What do Ant and Dec know about public speaking?

Why should anyone interested in improving their public speaking pay attention to Ant and Dec?

Let’s put this into context. Are they worth copying?

Ant & Dec got their first presenting (or public speaking) job nearly 20 years ago, in 1994. Since then, Ant & Dec have won the National Television Award for Best Entertainment Presenter(s) eleven (11) years running 2001 to 2012.

Eleven times! That is huge! Add to that a career of nearly 20 years either on a stage, on camera or speaking in public – and still being marketable in a very competitive field.

Although, like everyone, they have had failures and setbacks, they are still on our screens after a joint career of nearly 2 decades AND they enjoy significant and widespread popularity AND  are widely known by their first names.

There are very few, IF ANY, politicians or business leaders with the same levels of name recognition and popularity. So, they must be doing something right.

Public speaking is tough for most people. Some say that public speaking is as stressful as getting a divorce or moving house. It is true that very few people are any good at it. This is often because people focus on the words and forget the delivery. People who write speeches sweat and debate over every word and every phrase. This is true for both professional speechwriters and the pencil-chewing wreck who suddenly realises they have to actually stand up and give a speech or presentation. Minute for minute, more time is almost always spent on the words than on the delivery.

Of course, the words count – otherwise why speak? But unless your delivery DELIVERS the message (gettit?) to the audience, preferably undiluted and intact, you may as well have not stood up and opened your mouth. It is probably right to spend more time on the words than the delivery – but spending no time on the delivery is looking for trouble.

Your speech delivery or your presentation delivery DELIVERS your message.

Would you write an email or a letter and not send it? Or send one that doesn’t say what you mean?

OK – let me labour this point – what words you use and what you say is a fat lot of good if your delivery sucks.

A speech is supposed to move people, leave them with a message, or an emotion or even (Hey – you did your job!) a triggered action. But if the audience are wincing or uncomfortable during the speech – that is ALL that they will remember.

Speechwriters love great speakers – but great speakers are not born great. Great speakers practice and polish their delivery and they practice the speech. Speechwriters hate writing and putting blood and soul and guts into a speech that is delivered by someone who doesn’t practice the speech, care about the message or bother to pay attention to their delivery.

So what public speaking or presentation tips can we learn from Ant and Dec?

  1. They Have Fun.  Ant and Dec take the mick out of each other, the judges, the camera crews, the audience, anybody – they revel in the occasion and are visibly enjoying themselves. Either that or Ant & Dec are amazing actors. They SMILE! All the time. Just for a second – close your eyes and think of Ant and Dec – I bet your mental picture is of them smiling. They are comfortable with each other, comfortable in front of the camera and not overly or visibly concerned about getting everything right or saying the right words. Even when they make mistakes, lose their place, or generally are human, they ride the mistake and, ripping each other or themselves for doing it, get on with the gig. No awkward silence or uncomfortableness for the audience. Just fun.
  2. They are Informal and Real.  Authentic is the trendy word for this. It just means being human and being yourself. Which is why, unless you are an amazing actor – if you want to lead and/or represent people – a good place to start is actually liking people. Otherwise you are going to have act damn well for the rest of your professional or political life! Ant and Dec do this really well.
  3. They Connect with People as People. Ant and Dec connect with the contestants, the audiences, the camera, the judges and the audience. They take the time. They engage and smile and use different words and phrases when talking to people. There is none of the American retail Have a nice day plastic insincerity to their comments or how they interact with people.

A few politicians are similar in their outlook and approach. It is no surprise that they enjoy unusual and extra-ordinary popularity, at least in part, because of it.

Steve Norris, Boris and Bill Clinton are all liked by more people than people like their political party or their positions. They almost always appear to be having fun or at least enjoying the moment and are totally at ease on the stage. They all are relatively informal and often self-deprecating. They all connect with real people – as real people. They treat people as people and talk to them like normal people too. They are also happy to be themselves and their personality is allowed and encouraged. If only there were more political personalities like them.

NB. I have used one of the official pics from their official website – I hope they (and their management) will be ok with my using it!

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