Unconventional speaking advice #1: Speak with a full bladder

Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing a series of articles on unconventional speaking advice. I have trawled the internet for techniques that may seem bizarre or contrary to convention. Hopefully they will provide you with an amusing perspective into thought process of great speakers.

At the 2007 David Cameron delivered the keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference. It was an hour long and delivered without notes allowing Cameron to purposefully pace around the stage building a connection with his audience. This was an impressive feat of memory and public speaking ability. The speech is widely credited with recovering the Conservative’s position in the opinion polls after a slump caused by Gordon Browns appointment as Prime Minister.

Afterwards it was revealed that Cameron had employed a slightly unusual technique. He went on stage with a full bladder. This advice was taken from a documentary about the controversial politician Enoch Powell.  When Powell was asked why he refrained from using the toilet before speaking to an audience replied:

You should do nothing to decrease the tension before making a big speech. If anything you should seek to increase it.

This advice was echoed a Radio4 program Stand-up with the Stars, where radio presenters were recorded as they prepared and delivered a stand-up comedy set. In the show Laurie Taylor commented that going on stage with a full bladder added intensity and focus as you avoided long “shaggy dog stories” opting to get things over and done with as quickly as possible.

It struck me that if more people used this technique we might see less speeches that overrun. If every chair person wanted to go to the loo they wouldn’t let people go off topic and meetings would run to time.

Do your speeches go on to long? Does your audience look bored or distracted? Perhaps this unconventional advice could help you bring laser sharp focus to your speaking!

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