Lifehacker: Five Presentation Lessons from “The King’s Speech”

by Sarah Lambino on February 28, 2011

Designer and speaker Jesse Desjardins shared on the Lifehacker website five presentation lessons from the critically-acclaimed and Golden Globe-winning film The King’s Speech (starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush).

Jesse’s slideshow shows how in the film King George VI grows from stammering in his first public speech to finding his own voice and becoming a confident speaker.

Take a look at the slideshow first, and then we’ll go over how the five takeaways mentioned in the slideshow are applied in Model UN and share with you corresponding public speaking tips that can help you improve.

Find your voice.

1. Have Faith in Your Voice.

You are actually a confident speaker. You’re confident when you are familiar with what you want to say; you don’t typically stammer or get lost in your thoughts when you are speaking with your friends about something that you know well. Have that same faith in your voice when you get to committee.

Tips: Re-create familiarity by framing your opening speech and knowing what to say.

Learn from the experts.

2. Admit You Need Help.

Every public speaker can get better. There are many parts to a great speech: actual content, how the content is organized, how you transition between different points, eye contact, posture, room positioning, hand gestures, voice inflection, tone, volume, and so forth. You can’t possibly be the best at all of them in your club — but somebody is. Ask the best speakers in your club to teach you and demonstrate what they do so you can learn from them and get better.

Tips: Get an advanced delegate or your advisor to give you feedback on your opening speech or to demonstrate their own good speech. You can also take a Best Delegate workshop on public speaking.

Preparation will make you better.

3. Put the Hours In.

You can tell when someone made up a good speech — but you can easily recognize when someone prepared an even better one. They have put in the hours to make sure that the content of their speeches are clear and concise, and they have practiced their delivery with others so that they could get feedback and fine-tune it.

Tips: Practice your speech with someone or in front of a mirror. Also, put effort into your research binder so you can easily pull out facts as needed and keep up with current events so you can “make it up.”

Improve through experience.

4. Become an Expert from Experience.

Watch and listen to others — you’ll notice what they do well and what they don’t do well. Adapt any styles that you liked and would feel comfortable with using, and be conscious to not duplicate any mistakes that other delegates have made. And of course, get yourself on the speaker’s list and make a speech. The best way to improve in public speaking is to actually do it.

Tips: Provide feedback on teammate’s speeches to learn from a “chair’s” perspective. YouTube different famous public speakers (e.g. Presidents and civic leaders) to see if you want to incorporate any of their styles.

Be your confident self.

5. Broadcast a True Version of Yourself.

Be genuine when you speak. While you’re learning a lot from different people, don’t compromise on your style if you feel uncomfortable doing it. Smile if you typically do, or be funny or animated if you naturally are. At the end of the day, a speech is the same thing as you telling your group of friends something. Be yourself and you will do fine.

Tips: Practice giving a two minute self-introduction to your club so that you become comfortable with yourself. Imagine that you are about to tell your friends something before going up to make a speech.


Interested in learning more on how to make an inspirational speech in Model UN? Read our tips in How to Win Awards in Model United Nations!

  • Andrew

    Great article based on a great movie. BRB, gotta go write a speech about how much I love this.

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  • Jesse

    Thanks for the mention!

    You should embed the slideshow in your post.


    • Ryan

      Thank you for creating a great presentation! And yes we just updated the post to embed the slideshow.

    • KFC

      Jesse — great presentation! I learned a lot about design through your slideshow.

  • tiandara

    Thanks for this great article based on the movie!!! I really appreciate it!!!!

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