You can say what you like about Margaret Thatcher, but there’s no denying that the woman could speak. After all, you don’t become the first female British prime minister by mumbling your way through the election campaign and mincing your words once you’re in office.
You don’t have to be a conservative MP to appreciate that Thatcher was a public speaking powerhouse, and you don’t have to agree with her policies to imitate the best parts of her approach to public speaking. Here are just a few of the things we can learn from her.
Speak Like a Margaret Thatcher: How to Master Public Speaking
1. Use Style As a Branding Tool
No one knew better than Thatcher that the wrapping is just as important as the package inside. One of Thatcher’s big innovations was to use personal style as a branding tool, generally opting for a professional suit with an accompanying handbag. It was designed to show people that she was a serious political leader and also had the effect of making her instantly recognizable as soon as she walked into a room. She’d done most of the hard work before she even opened her mouth.
2. Stay True to Your Values
They didn’t nickname Margaret Thatcher “The Iron Lady” for nothing. Iron is brittle and doesn’t bend, and neither did Thatcher when she was talking about something that she believed in. But you don’t have to be a politician to learn from this one. It applies just as equally when you’re delivering a keynote speech or presenting to your peers. Ultimately, people relate to people – and so you’ll want to stay true to yourself instead of acting like a robot.
3. Vary Your Pitch
Public speakers are much more engaging when they vary their pitch and their volume instead of talking in a monotone. Thatcher was a master at lowering her voice, which paradoxically made people pay more attention, and deepening the tone of her speech when she needed her audience to perceive her as particularly powerful.
4. Connect With Your Audience
Thatcher and her team knew that if she wanted her speeches to capture her audience’s imagination, she’d need to connect with them on an emotional level. That’s why she placed such a strong emphasis on understanding the audiences at different events while placing it into the context of the mood of the country as a whole. When you’re presenting, it’s unlikely that the stakes will be this high, but you can still deliberately analyze your audience ahead of time and try to tap into their fears and their desires.
5. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
When it comes to public speaking, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared. One of the reasons why Margaret Thatcher was so successful was because she had a strong team behind her to help her to prepare. You’ll want to be as fully-informed as possible when it comes to the subject that you’re talking about, whether you’re talking about taxation and government spending or whether you’re delivering a big speech to a client or a crowd of your peers. Knowing as much as you can gives you more confidence (which will show in the way you hold yourself), and it’ll also prepare you as much as possible for any questions that you might receive.
Possibly the biggest, most impactful thing that you can do to become a strong public speaker is to practice, practice, practice – and Thatcher was no stranger to that. If you really want to be the best speaker that you can possibly be, no list of tips in the world will help you to overcome a lack of practice.
If you want to be a better speaker, then you need to put the hours in. Nobody else can do that for you. It’s up to you.
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- Speak Like a Margaret Thatcher: How to Master Public Speaking - September 13, 2017